The lifting of the visa requirement between Russia and Turkey has caused much happiness in the local tourism sector this year, with more than 6.8 million Russian tourists visiting Turkey since mobility was eased.
The increased cooperation across all areas over the past 10 years between Turkey and Russia has had a particularly positive impact on the tourism sector. This is particularly the case after 2011, when mutual visa requirements were jointly lifted, which has resulted in a significant rise in the number of tourists coming from Russia.
In the year 2010, when there was no visa exemption, 3.1 million Russian tourists came to Turkey. In 2012, the year after travel without visas became possible, this figure had risen to 3.6 million, according to data from Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) and the Ministry of Culture. In 2013, over 4 million Russian tourists are expected to visit Turkey.
As trips between the two countries became more frequent, this in turn caused the demand for flights from the national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) to increase. THY, which flies to eight different Russian cities, now has a total of 62 flights per week to Russia. The airline carried an average of 35,777 passengers per month in 2012.
According to official Russian data, the number of Russians who travel overseas for touristic purposes was 15.3 million in 2012, with Turkey the top choice of destination.
Russians prefer the southern city of Antalya in Turkey the most and they stay in Turkey for an average of 10 days each, according to Russian tourism companies’ surveys. Since the visa requirement was dropped, Russian tourists have also started discovering cultural destinations. The figures also showed only 10 percent of Russians choose to visit Istanbul.