Pamukkale in Turkey is a World Heritage Site. Turkey has 622 national parks.

Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care.[1] Since 2021, Turkey is the fourth most visited country in the world.[2]

Number of international tourist arrivals

At its height in 2019, Turkey attracted around 51 million foreign tourists,[3][4] The total number fluctuated between around 41 million in 2015, and around 30 million in 2016.[5][6] However, recovery began in 2017, with the number of foreign visitors increasing to 37.9 million, and in 2018 to 46.1 million visitors.[7][8][9]

Destinations

Istanbul

Dolmabahçe Palace is a popular tourism destination in Turkey.
Ortaköy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge

Istanbul is one of the most important tourist spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as MetroCity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.

In January 2013, the Turkish government announced that it would build the world's largest airport in Istanbul. The operation has an invested 7-billion euros and was planned to have the first part of a four-part plan completed by 2017.[10]

As a consequence of the continuous fall in tourism to Turkey in recent years, as of October 2016 in Istanbul's famous bazaar once crowded shopping streets are not as crowded as before, "the streams of tourists who used to visit the market each day have trickled to a halt".[5] The number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul declined to 9.2 million in 2016, a 26 percent decrease compared to 2015.[11]

Ankara

Ankara is the country's capital and second most populated city.[12] It is rich with Turkish history and culture that have roots in the founding of Turkey along with the history of ancient civilizations. The most popular landmark is the Anıtkabir,[13] a mausoleum for Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. Another landmark would be the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, a museum that possesses works from Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman civilizations.[14]

Izmir

Izmir is a city with historical and geopolitical importance in ancient civilizations such as Macedonia, Persia, Lydia, and the Ottomans.[15] The city has a memorable history in the early years of Turkey as it was the main city that was affected by the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).[16] Izmir is home to many ancient cities such as Ephesus, Pergamon, and Klazomenai.[17] Besides historical significance, Izmir also possesses many locations for coastal tourism for international travelers. Frequently visited regions that have tourist beaches for local and international tourists would be Çeşme, Mordoğan, and Foça.[18][19]

Other destinations

Ölüdeniz beach
Butterfly Valley, Fethiye

Beach vacations and Blue Cruises, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry.[20] Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern coast, called the Turkish Riviera, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antalya is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.[21] Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Didim and Alanya. Also, Turkey has been chosen second in the world in 2015 with its 436 blue-flagged beaches, according to the Chamber of Shipping.[22]

Attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of the Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, ancient Pontic capital and king rock tombs with its acropolis in Amasya, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.

One of the most important and famous cities in the east and southeast of Turkey is called Diyarbakır. This city is considered one of the important options for traveling to the east of Turkey due to its numerous historical, religious and cultural places. For researchers who are interested in cultural studies, this city is a favorable option for study and research due to the accommodation of different ethnic groups (Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians) and religious groups (Muslims, Christians). Due to the civil wars between the PKK group and the central government of Turkey in the 90's, the number of tourists in this region decreased. With the beginning of the 21st century and after the establishment of relative peace and security in these areas, tourism has been increasing again in these areas.[28]

Gallipoli and Anzac Cove – a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, which became known as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. Following the landing at Anzac Cove, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops for the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign.

Cappadocia is a region created by the erosion of soft volcanic stone by the wind and rain for centuries.[29] The area is a popular tourist destination, having many sites with unique geological, historic, and cultural features.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Main article: List of World Heritage Sites in Turkey

Safranbolu was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1994 due to its well-preserved Ottoman era houses and architecture.

As of 2023, Turkey hosts 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 19 cultural and 2 mixed.[30]

Turkey's World Heritage Sites, as per their official UNESCO names, are as follows:

  1. Aphrodisias
  2. Archaeological Site of Ani
  3. Archaeological Site of Troy
  4. Arslantepe Mound
  5. Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire
  6. City of Safranbolu
  7. Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
  8. Ephesus
  9. Gordion
  10. Göbekli Tepe
  11. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
  12. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
  13. Hattusha: the Hittite Capital
  14. Hierapolis-Pamukkale
  15. Historic Areas of Istanbul
  16. Nemrut Dağ
  17. Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
  18. Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
  19. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
  20. Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia
  21. Xanthos-Letoon

Medical tourism

Main article: Health care in Turkey

Acıbadem Hospital in Altunizade, Istanbul

An emerging branch of tourism in Turkey is medical tourism. Commonly performed medical procedures are hair transplant operations, rhinoplasty and cosmetic dentistry as it draws in thousands of foreigner tourists every year.[31][32] In 2021, the revenue generated from medical tourism was given as $1.05 billion with 642,000 people that visited for the purpose of getting medical service.[33] This is due to Turkey offering high-quality clinics for affordable pricing compared to the rest of Europe and its central location between Asia and Europe.[34] Other reasons for the high demand for healthcare in Turkey are foreigners having easy visa procedures and immediate scheduling for operations.[1]

Development of tourism

Most tourist arrivals in Turkey come from the following countries:[35][36][9][37][38]

Rank Country 11/2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
1  Russia 6,083,696 5,232,611 4,694,422 2,128,758 Increase 7,017,657 Increase 5,964,631 Increase 4,715,438
2  Germany 5,959,843 5,679,194 3,085,215 1,118,932 Increase 5,027,472 Increase 4,512,360 Decrease 3,584,653
3  United Kingdom 3,711,802 3,370,739 392,746 820,709 Increase 2,562,064 Increase 2,254,871 Decrease 1,658,715
4  Bulgaria 2,641,197 2,882,512 1,402,795 1,242,961 Increase 2,713,464 Increase 2,386,885 Increase 1,852,867
5  Iran 2,291,338 2,331,076 9,618 385,762 Increase 2,102,890 Decrease 2,001,744 Increase 2,501,948
6  Poland 1,521,506 1,135,903 585,076 145,908 Increase 880,839 Increase 646,365 Increase 296,120
7  Georgia 1,501,261 1,514,813 291,852 410,501 Decrease 1,995,254 Decrease 2,069,392 Increase 2,438,730
8  United States 1,277,827 1,013,478 371,759 148,937 Increase 578,074 Increase 448,327 Decrease 329,257
9  Netherlands 1,183,109 1,244,756 645,601 271,526 Increase 1,117,290 Increase 1,013,642 Decrease 799,006
10  Iraq 987,536 1,208,895 836,624 387,587 Increase 1,374,896 Increase 1,172,896 Increase 896,876
11  France 976,203 986,090 621,493 311,708 Increase 875,957 Increase 731,379 Increase 578,524
12  Romania 947,024 886,555 496,178 269,076 Increase 763,320 Increase 641,484 Increase 423,868
13  Kazakhstan 795,483 712,136 366,076 137,213 Increase 455,724 Increase 426,916 Increase 402,830
14  Ukraine 794,706 675,467 2,060,008 997,652 Increase 1,547,996 Increase 1,386,934 Increase 1,284,735
15  Azerbaijan 789,285 683,834 470,618 236,797 Increase 901,723 Increase 858,506 Increase 765,514
16  Saudi Arabia 783,968 497,914 10,083 67,490 Decrease 564,816 Increase 747,233 Increase 651,170
17  Israel 761,903 843,028 225,238 129,677 Increase 569,368 Increase 443,732 Increase 380,415
18  Greece 621,249 569,795 157,723 136,305 Increase 836,882 Increase 686,891 Increase 623,705
19  Belgium 570,927 596,173 339,529 138,729 Increase 557,435 Increase 511,559 Increase 419,998
20  Italy 559,808 420,661 116,806 72,619 Increase 377,011 Increase 284,195 Decrease 205,788
21  Austria 467,835 454,638 284,095 112,126 Increase 401,475 Increase 353,628 Decrease 287,746
22  Uzbekistan 437,296 419,673 272,604 102,598 Increase 252,138 Increase 241,235 Increase 195,745
23  Czech Republic 379,313 295,454 89,734 15,642 Increase 311,359 Increase 228,251 Increase 126,567
24   Switzerland 374,205 382,835 219,591 127,643 Increase 311,107 Decrease 269,649 Decrease 206,479
25  Jordan 369,546 494,629 326,633 93,750 Increase 474,874 Increase 406,469 Increase 277,729
26  Kuwait 347,985 480,123 246,249 120,221 Increase 374,191 Increase 298,620 Increase 255,644
27  Sweden 347,682 415,696 192,872 93,703 Increase 444,285 Increase 384,397 Increase 289,134
28  Denmark 311,765 356,127 111,499 44,694 Increase 335,877 Increase 326,278 Decrease 269,026
29  Spain 300,956 298,165 104,848 54,381 Increase 257,342 Increase 178,018 Increase 106,757
30  Belarus 299,814 239,966 220,932 106,426 Increase 258,419 Increase 245,254 Increase 229,229
31  Serbia 295,735 357,787 238,852 129,284 Increase 282,347 Increase 225,312 Increase 146,852
32  Moldova 278,796 274,257 192,441 109,137 Increase 198,867 Increase 194,268 Increase 171,538
33  Lithuania 274,720 251,619 114,227 14,194 Increase 229,704 Increase 199,371 Increase 134,264
34  Algeria 266,919 210,478 48,827 50,121 Increase 295,512 Increase 288,207 Increase 213,333
35  India 250,987 231,579 52,651 44,707 Increase 230,131 Increase 147,127 Increase 86,996
36  Morocco 242,968 251,708 121,333 67,775 Increase 234,264 Increase 176,538 Increase 114,155
37  Lebanon 237,202 272,844 191,768 89,337 Increase 376,721 Increase 338,837 Increase 237,476
38  Canada 237,122 197,416 72,034 34,210 Increase 139,164 Increase 108,272 Increase 81,196
39  Macedonia 235,030 266,184 182,045 115,483 Increase 222,862 Increase 209,519 Increase 172,851
40  Slovakia 232,380 196,462 37,963 8,648 Increase 207,108 Increase 157,003 Increase 97,967
41  China 223,078 89,515 33,641 40,264 Increase 426,344 Increase 394,109 Increase 247,277
42  Hungary 216,241 165,842 76,257 16,563 Increase 149,523 Increase 123,448 Increase 79,899
43  Norway 196,890 191,789 54,633 25,100 Increase 208,330 Increase 161,789 Increase 116,180
44  Cyprus 187,240 182,945 68,353 59,808 Increase 268,341 Increase 266,859 Increase 256,059
45  Australia 185,611 118,847 15,674 15,109 Increase 120,837 Increase 96,488 Increase 77,153
46  Libya 176,723 220,179 197,983 107,251 Increase 259,243 Increase 188,312 Increase 99,395
47  Egypt 171,032 227,850 124,483 68,936 Increase 177,655 Increase 148,943 Increase 100,971
48  Bosnia 169,652 200,698 131,347 61,651 Increase 144,445 Increase 120,480 Increase 90,378
49  Kosovo 165,909 193,823 145,931 70,462 Increase 152,048 Increase 139,500 Increase 116,049
50  Indonesia 160,033 152,995 49,319 36,690 Increase 127,149 Increase 119,337 Increase 85,031
51  Ireland 158,962 136,608 36,947 26,176 Increase 96,886 Increase 71,221 Increase 50,102
52  Tunisia 158,295 206,714 126,970 57,563 Increase 172,587 Increase 142,372 Increase 111,627
53  Kyrgyzstan 157,707 147,487 102,840 52,142 Increase 121,364 Increase 114,926 Increase 104,911
54  Mexico 147,328 114,267 34,705 12,775 Increase 66,557 Increase 36,737 Increase 19,632
55  South Korea 146,750 99,869 15,206 36,636 Increase 212,970 Increase 159,354 Increase 120,622
56  Albania 134,434 145,032 89,748 49,667 Increase 134,869 Increase 125,935 Increase 103,593
57  Pakistan 130,053 173,621 90,681 51,326 Increase 130,736 Increase 113,579 Increase 77,464
58  Finland 113,282 117,281 32,809 15,003 Increase 135,192 Increase 128,860 Increase 97,112
59  Turkmenistan 110,550 45,249 18,979 43,236 Increase 297,706 Increase 252,911 Increase 230,881
60  United Arab Emirates 107,050 146,438 52,587 3,772 Decrease 37,500 Decrease 43,292 Decrease 49,360
Total 46,725,424 44,564,395 24,712,266 12,734,213 Increase 51,747,198 Increase 46,112,592 Increase 37,969,824
Visa policy of Turkey
  Turkey
  Unlimited stay
  Visa-free - 90 days
  Visa-free - 60 days
  Visa-free - 30 days
  eVisa - 90 days (multiple entries)
  eVisa - 30 days (single entry)
  eVisa - 30 days (Conditional)
  Visa required in advance

Foreign tourist arrivals increased substantially in Turkey between 2000 and 2005, from 8 million to 25 million, which made Turkey a top-10 destination in the world for foreign visitors. 2005 revenues were US$20.3 billion which also made Turkey one of the top-10 biggest revenue owners in the world. In 2011, Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and 4th in Europe, according to UNWTO World Tourism barometer.[39] See World Tourism rankings. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, still ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world.[4] From 2015, tourism to Turkey entered a steep decline.[40][41] In 2016, only around 30 million people visited Turkey. 2016 is described as the second year of huge losses on both visitor numbers and income, a "year of devastating losses", with Turkish tourism businesses stating that they "cannot remember a worse time in the sector".[5] The number of foreign visitors started recovering in 2017 with 37.9 million visitors being recorded. The recovery was partly due to intense security campaigns and advertising. The number of Russian tourists increased by 444% after the recovery of bilateral relations, resulting in Russia becoming the top tourism market for Turkey once again.[7][8] Increases were also recorded in the British, Dutch and Belgian markets.[42]

In early 2017, the Turkish government urged Turkish citizens living abroad to take their vacations in Turkey, attempting to revive the struggling tourism sector[43] of an economy that went into contraction from late 2016.[44] After the April 2017 constitutional referendum, another sharp drop in tourist bookings from Germany was recorded.[45] In 2018, however, the German Tourism Industry Association recorded a growth in German tourist bookings for Turkey, with a 70% increase being recorded by the TUI Group alone.[46]

Gallery

Government policy and regulation

The AKP government has been promoting "halal tourism" for years,[47] politically reaffirming this stance over the course of 2016.[48] In March 2017, a Turkish court banned global travel fare aggregator website Booking.com from offering services to Turkish tourists for lack of a national licence,[49] while the Hoteliers Association of Turkey campaigns for a lifting the ban of the enterprise on which its members relied for up to 90 percent of their turnover.[50] In April 2017, the police department of the prime resort city of Antalya issued a directive banning the consumption of alcohol outside of buildings.[51]

Sex tourism

Main article: Prostitution in Turkey

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Turkey. The secularization of Turkish society allowed prostitution to achieve legal status during the early 20th century. Sex tourism has been part of Turkey's tourism industry and has been growing over the decades both for foreigners and locals. Many foreigners come to Turkey to work for local Turks in the prostitution business, while many Turks travel abroad as consumers of sex tourism, mostly to Eastern Europe for the purpose.[52] Anyone who encourages someone to commit prostitution, facilitates it, or mediates or provides a place for prostitution is punished with imprisonment from two months to four years and a judicial fine of up to three thousand days.[53][54]

COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of tourists arriving in Turkey declined to around 16 million in 2020.[55] This was the lowest number of tourists in the last decade.[55] The revenue from international travel was reduced to $13.7 billion which only made up 1.91% of the total economy in 2020.[56][57] In 2021, Turkey's tourism recovered from the pandemic as it contributed $59.3 billion to the GDP, which made up 7.3% of the total economy.[58][59]

See also

References

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Requirements for Urgent Visa for Turkey

Further reading