Press "Enter" to skip to content

Türkiye crowns 2023 with record 49.2M tourists, $54.3B in revenue

Türkiye welcomed around 49.2 million foreign tourists in 2023, a year officials dubbed the best year ever for the industry, a critical revenue source for the country seeking to curb its chronic current account deficit.

Spearheaded by arrivals from Russia and Europe, the figure marks a new peak and is up 10.4% from 44.6 million foreigners who arrived in 2022, the Culture and Tourism Ministry data showed on Wednesday.

Combined with nearly 7.5 million Turkish citizens living abroad, the number of visitors rose to 56.7 million. Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy held a news conference to announce the data. The figure is up from 51.4 million in 2022.

Tourism income also climbed 17% year-over-year to an all-time high of $54.32 billion, according to separate data by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). The tourism industry’s previous record was $46.48 billion in 2022.

Ersoy said foreign arrivals are expected to reach 60 million in 2024 before hitting 90 million in 2028. For the income, the minister said they see it rising to $60 billion this year and $100 billion five years from now.

Revenues stood at $38.4 billion in 2019 before the pandemic, which more than halved it to just $14.8 billion in 2020 before rebounding to $30.2 billion in 2021.

“Due to its successful management of the pandemic, Türkiye experienced significant leaps in the tourism sector in 2022, making it a highly successful season,” said Ersoy.

“In fact, when looking at the sectoral perspective, Türkiye was among the first countries in the world to reach pre-pandemic figures.”

Ersoy said the 2023 record came despite the devastating earthquakes that razed the country’s southeastern region last February, as well as the geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East.

Russians topped the list among nations arriving in Türkiye in 2023, mostly due to flight restrictions imposed by Western nations over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arrivals were also backed by a surging demand from European countries, spearheaded by Germany and the United Kingdom.

At 6.3 million, Russians made up 12.8% of all visitors, rising 20.7% from the previous year.

They were followed by German tourists at 6.2 million (up 9% annually), Britons at 3.8 million (up 12.8%), Bulgarians at 2.9 million (up 0.4%) and Iranians at 2.5 million (up 7.4%).

Ersoy indicated the aim for growth in the North American market, specifically in the United States and Canada, as well as in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Additionally, he said they are targeting growth in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on the markets of China, India and Australia.

Istanbul, Türkiye’s most famous city and its largest by population, remained the top draw for foreign visitors, welcoming 17.4 million tourists in 2023. It was followed by the Mediterranean resort city Antalya, which had 14.8 million visitors. Edirne, a city in northwestern Türkiye bordering Bulgaria and Greece, sat third with 4.7 million tourists.

Best performance ever

Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said 2023 marked the best performance ever in tourism.

“According to the Medium-Term Program, we expect the number of visitors to reach 59.4 million this year and tourism revenue to increase to $59.6 billion, continuing the strong trend in tourism,” Şimşek wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Our target for the year 2028 is to achieve 82.3 million visitors and $100 billion in tourism revenue.”

The foreign exchange it brings in makes tourism income vital to Türkiye’s economy, as the government focuses on flipping the current account deficits to a surplus, prioritizing exports, production and investments while curbing rising inflation.

The data showed the per capita overnight income reached $99 in 2023, higher than the government’s expectation of $95 and up from $87.50 in 2022. The figure is estimated to reach $118 in 2028.

The overall average expenditure per capita reached $952, up 11.1% from $901 in 2022, according to the TurkStat data.

“With 56.7 million visitors, $99 per capita overnight income, and a total revenue of $54.3 billion, 2023 was a record year in tourism,” said Ersoy.

“New records will be set in 2024,” he maintained.

Ersoy said they would continue concentrating more on tourists with increasing per capita overnight spending and higher non-accommodation expenditures.

“We see that the positive results of this policy and strategy are reflected in the figures,” he noted.

He further said they target to lift the per capita overnight income to $106 and aim to complete 2024 with an average stay of 9.7 nights.

In the last quarter alone, the tourism revenue increased by 6.8% to $12.27 billion, with the number of visitors at 12.4 million, up 4.1% versus the same quarter in 2022.

According to the data, the number of visitors in December increased by 3.51% to 2.48 million.

Bulgarians made up the most significant foreign visitors in December, with 251,895 arrivals. They were followed by Germans at 233,416, Russians at 229,979 and Iranians at 213,156.

In December, Istanbul saw 53% of all foreign visitors, or 1.3 million. Edirne was placed second with 14.3% or 356,255 tourists. Antalya followed with a 10.5% share or 259,568 visitors.

More from BusinessMore posts in Business »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *