Tourism is an important contributor to the economy of Türkiye. In 2019, tourism receipts reached USD 41.3 billion, representing 5.4% of GDP. Tourism-related employment accounted for 8.1% of the workforce, or 2.3 million people. The share of tourism employment in total employment declined to 6.6% in 2021. Tourism receipts fell 67% in 2020 to USD 13.6 billion, with tourism’s contribution to national GDP falling to 1.9%. In 2021, Tourism receipts increased by 110% compared to the previous year and reached USD 28.6 billion, with a contribution to national GDP of 3.5%.

The number of international arrivals to Türkiye reached a record high of 51.2 million in 2019. In 2020, 15.9 million tourists visited Türkiye, a decrease of 69% compared to the previous year. The number of international visitors to Türkiye rebounded to 30 million in 2021, up 88% from 2020. The relative strength of international tourism saw Türkiye enter the top five global destinations in 2021. The top source markets included Russia (15.6% of total inbound tourism), Germany (10.3%), Ukraine (6.8%) and Bulgaria (4.7%).

Signs of recovery were also seen in domestic tourism, which recorded 52.8 million tourists, a ten million increase from 2020, however remaining 32.5% below pre-pandemic levels.

2022 is expected to see continued growth, with an expected 42 million international arrivals, although remaining below pre-pandemic levels. Türkiye expects to hit 60 million international arrivals in 2023 and 70 million in 2024.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is responsible for tourism in Türkiye. Its duties are to investigate, develop, protect, maintain, evaluate, disseminate and promote tourism in order to contribute to the strengthening of national unity and economic growth.

Overseas marketing and promotion are directed and co-ordinated by the Promotion Directorate within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and delivered by a network of 46 overseas offices in 41 different countries. At the regional level, Türkiye has 81 Provincial Culture and Tourism offices that conserve the historical, cultural and natural heritage, diversify tourism, and promote the region through cultural events, festivals and fairs.

Several professional institutions and private sector associations work closely with the Ministry to plan tourism and address specific issues. These bodies include the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, Touristic Hotels and lnvestors Association, Hoteliers Federation, Turkish Tourism lnvestors Association and the Union of Tourist Guides’ Chambers. The investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye also promotes Türkiye’s investment opportunities to the global business community and assists investors.

Founded in 2019, the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency is dedicated to promoting Türkiye as a brand and a popular destination in both domestic and international tourism markets; discovering, developing and promoting tangible and intangible natural, cultural and heritage assets; boosting the tourism capacity of Türkiye, increasing the rate of tourism investments in the national economy and raising the quality of service with short, medium and long-term communication and marketing activities.

Operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Agency is subject to private law provisions. The Agency comprises the Board of Directors, Executive Board, and Advisory Board, with the Board of Directors serving as the decision-making body. The Board of Directors comprises 15 members chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Türkiye.

Türkiye also plans to develop domestic and international tourism in new destinations, using a destination management model to redesign the management structure in the provinces.

To prepare Türkiye’s tourism industry for future shocks, the Ministry is updating the Tourism Masterplan and setting new goals for 2022-24.

Sustainable tourism is a key priority for Türkiye’s post-COVID-19 strategy and a main pillar in the updated Masterplan. In order to redesign Türkiye’s sustainable tourism policies and efforts, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism co-operates with local, national, and international stakeholders and academia. Türkiye also updated its Tourism Master Plan 2023 to reflect the impacts and challenges of the pandemic on tourism. In accordance, a crisis management strategy outline was added to the Plan.

Türkiye’s tourism industry has been growing steadily over the last 40 years, with new investments in infrastructure such as large hotels, holiday villages, luxury boutique hotels, ports, airports, high-speed trains, roads, highways, and metros in almost all big cities. The rate of tourism-related investment has decreased with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Türkiye introduced a set of policies and practices to keep tourism businesses running during the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Providing bank loans for advance payments covering preliminary reservations.

  • Delaying social security payments by six months.

  • Allowing Ministry-approved travel agencies to work online.

  • Postponing debt payments from tourism facilities located on public land.

  • Providing fast bank loans with repayment holidays to small-scale tourism operations.

  • Postponing accommodation tax in hotels and tourism facilities and hotel rents.

  • Paying TRY 1 000 to 3 million households financially affected by the crisis.

The slowdown of travel during the pandemic provided time for tourism policymakers to develop new policies and innovative practices. During this period, the Ministry took the opportunity to redesign its five-year tourism policies, prioritising sustainability and competitiveness.

New programmes include the Safe Tourism Certification to assess COVID-19 measures in tourism businesses across the industry (see box below) and Go Türkiye, a new multi-platform tourism portal. Go Türkiye was completed in 2020 and aims to help spread tourism throughout the country. The portal actively involves tourism NGOs, universities, the private sector, and provincial tourism administrations. A survey conducted in all 81 provinces of Türkiye provided data, opinions, and feedback which will be used for developing new destinations and redesigning tourism in the post-COVID-19 era.

To increase the competitiveness of Türkiye’s tourism industry, the Ministry enhanced co-operation with international stakeholders such as the UNWTO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the World Economic Forum. The Ministry also continues to work closely with national stakeholders such as industry partners, the business association TÜSİAD, and other ministries involved in tourism and sustainability.

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