Tourism to Turkey increased by 50.56 percent in the first quarter of 2018, with a total of 7,263,807 visitors between January and March, according to official figures released by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The tourism growth coincides with the start of the Year of Troy 2018, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the archaeological site’s listing on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. As part of the Year of Troy, a calendar of cultural and sporting initiatives will be held throughout the year, including the International Trojan Food Festival-Çanakkale in June and the Trojan Horse Short Film Festival in October.
In support of The Year of Troy, Turkish Airlines launched a “Troia”-themed aircraft. The A321-type aircraft is specially designed with a livery of the Trojan Horse, made famous in Homer’s account of the Trojan War in the epic, Iliad.
Other cultural and tourism highlights from Turkey include:
• Following an eight-year restoration project, the 1,600-year-old Theodosius Cistern officially opened to the public in April. The Cistern is believed to date to the reign of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II and formed part of a 250 km-long system which brought fresh water to the ancient city. Located in Istanbul’s Çemberlitaş neighborhood, the fifth century structure will periodically host art exhibitions and other cultural events.
• Twelve pieces of the world-famous Zeugma mosaics are to be returned to Turkey, following the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. The pieces, forming part of the frame for the infamous “Gypsy Girl” panel, have been held by the university since 1965. On their return, they will be exhibited at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep.
• The Ministry of Finance announced incentives to boost medical tourism in Turkey, with the aim to bring 1.5 million health tourism visitors to the country by 2023. Incentives include new investment subsidies and value-added tax (VAT) exemptions for non-resident foreigners using medical institutes accredited by the Ministry of Health.
• Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s leading contemporary art museum, will move to a new location on Istanbul’s historic waterfront. Designed by the celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano, the three-year construction project is part of the city’s initiative to restore cultural and historic sites in the Galataport district. The Istanbul Modern will temporarily move to the Union Française building until construction is complete.
• The first Six Senses resort in Turkey opened on May 1 in Kaplankaya. On the banks of the Aegean Sea, Six Senses Kaplankaya includes 141 guestrooms, six suites and 66 private villas. The hotel’s secluded location offers a range of activities, such as watersports, hiking and nature trails, and cultural experiences. State-of-the-art spa facilities incorporate high-tech science with high-touch therapies, providing a range of pioneering health and wellness regimens.
• The Galata Istanbul Hotel – MGallery by Sofitel recently opened its doors. The new luxury establishment boasts 83 different rooms and suites, as well as a selection of bars, restaurants and spa facilities, including a traditional Turkish Hammam.
• EDITION Hotels is launching its new hotel in Bodrum. Overlooking the Aegean Sea, the Bodrum EDITION offers 102 rooms, suites and villas. Facilities include an infinity pool, garden lounge, night club, Turkish Hammam and fitness center. Food options will include an all-day casual dining venue, two bars and a gourmet specialty grill.
GASTRONOMY AND NIGHTLIFE
• Istanbul’s newly renovated Ulus 29 restaurant reopened in April. An eclectic menu, blending traditional Turkish cuisine with international food trends, makes this stylish restaurant and bar popular with both locals and visitors with views over the Bosporus.
• The recently-opened MSA Restaurant can be found in Istanbul’s Sakip Sabanci Museum. Owned by the Culinary Arts Academy of Istanbul, instructor chefs and students provide an extensive menu, ranging from local Istanbul street food and Turkish cuisine to popular international dishes.
• The Populist has recently opened a new branch at Bebek Mahallesi, Neşe Sokak, No: 1. Dating back to 1890, the craft brewery and restaurant remains a firm favorite with locals and tourists alike. Spread over three floors, the décor comprises a unique blend of prohibition-era USA with modern day Istanbul.
• Rana by Topaz is a new restaurant in the up-and-coming Gümüşsuyu area. The causal tavern-style feel offers a comfortable dining experience, while the ambitious menu combines international and Turkish cuisine.
• Inspired by the Rolling Stones’ song, Angie is an intimate bar located in Istanbul’s trendy Bebek neighborhood. Offering both live music and DJ performances, its classic feel brings a new dimension to Istanbul’s eclectic nightlife.
• Hypnos Hall is a new addition to Istanbul’s electronic music scene. The venue will host international DJs and producers, as well as featuring artistic and visual shows.
• The Ruby night club has recently opened its doors, providing a glamorous nighttime experience in Istanbul. The restaurant boasts a unique range of Turkish and Japanese dishes, to be enjoyed on the garden terrace with panoramic views of the Bosporus. The Ruby’s nightclubs stay open until the early hours, offering both live music and DJ performances with selection of award-winning cocktails.