The Turkish response to the economic crisis is to rely on the growth of international arrivals. This sector rose 22% in the first quarter of 2012 to 4 million tourists of which 86,174 were Italians (an increase of 29% compared to 2012). Over 6.5 thousand of them were interested in the cultural sites of Istanbul, Izmir, ancient Smyrna, and the archaeological sites of Ephesus and Pergamum.
The 2012 tourist receipts totaled 29.4 billion dollars, confirming tourism to be one of the major industries contributing to industry, and bound to increase. As stated by Enis Ugur, Director of the Culture and Information Office of the Turkish Embassy in Italy, while disclosing the strategies for why 2013 is showing tourist and revenue growth:
“The objective for 2013 is to promote the sea resort holidays of Antalya, the Turquoise Coast, Bodrum, Fethiye, and Marmaris, where the climate is mild, the waters are clear, the gastronomy is excellent, and the cultural sites are within easy reach.”
The ideal holiday time is between April and September. A gulet cruise or a stay in one of the resorts overlooking the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas offer a quiet and enjoyable holiday. The objectives of Turkey’s tourism are also to promote archaeological heritage – there are 11 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, with an additional 37 waiting to be listed.
The development of tourism includes the renewal of infrastructure. In 2011, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism granted 128.5 million Turkish lira (about 55 million euro or close to US$72 million) to provinces and municipalities, and in the last decade, the government also invested in the incoming sector by increasing the accommodation sector to one million beds, to date, and 13,214 authorized tourism guides.
The updating of infrastructure includes high-speed trains, now functionable between Ankara-Eskişehirand and Ankara-Konya, while the stretch between Ankara-Istanbul is under construction.
Istanbul is a candidate along with Madrid and Tokyo to host the Olympic Games in 2020. The coordination between the political center and administrative suburbs, between public and private, requires a strategic vision that will link the Games to the future of the country and will be crucial for a positive decision to be made by the Olympic International Committee in September 2013.
“Istanbul 2020 represents one of the pillars of the plan to transform Turkey by 2023, the centenary of the foundation of the Republic, into one of the ten richest, most modern and influential countries in the world,” said Ugur.
“Bridge Together” is the slogan that has been chosen for this plan, referring to the bridges that unite the two continents of Asia and Europe, with sports as a unifying link between cultures. Istanbul’s candidacy is an integral part of two wide-ranging initiatives: the plan to realize 415 new sport facilities and 24 new stadiums, and the urban transport plan that involves the construction of a metro line network of more than 200 km (underground and surface) in addition to roads, bridges, and tunnels, for connecting all districts of the city, including the European side and Asian regions through the tunnel under the Bosphorus.
The objective is to have “Games without cars,” so that ticket holders with access to the stadium Games will also have free use of public transportation to it.
Turkey authorities have also filed a request to host the Expo 2020, to be held in ancient Smyrna. This would give Turkey the opportunity to highlight a city rich in history and culture, showcasing its archaeological and natural beauties, while still young and dynamic.
This with the aim to boost tourism to the Aegean Coast, said Ugur, which is traditionally open and multicultural, is called by all “Izmir the Beautiful.”