Turkey’s inbound arrival from India grew by a strong around 76 per cent, registering a record number of Indian tourist arrivals at over 150,000 in 2018. About 87,000 Indian tourists had visited Turkey in 2017. Before 2018, Turkey’s best year in Indian arrivals was 2015 when it hosted around 137,000 Indian tourists. As Turkey’s tourism recovery continues, the Turkish Tourism’s India office is confident of registering another year of stellar growth in 2019 as well.
One of the reasons of a better 2019 is increased air capacity with India’s biggest domestic carrier IndiGo announcing direct flights to Istanbul. Besides, Turkey Tourism is keen to closely engage with the trade across India and go the whole hog in order to build on the momentum and has lined up a number of initiatives in 2019 aimed at developing the Indian market.
Internationally, tourist arrivals to Turkey that had steeply declined in 2015-16 as a result of the regional geopolitics, has recorded the second consecutive year of robust growth in 2018, and is close to its peak performance of 2014 when it received 42 million tourists. Turkish tourism had set a target of 40 million international tourist arrivals for 2018 that it did achieve last year.
“This (2018) is the best year for us, a record in Indian arrival. And we are expecting this to continue in 2019. We have some good news about the direct air connectivity. IndiGo, an Indian carrier, is about to start flight services to Istanbul from two different cities in India, from Ahmedabad and Delhi, by the end of March,” Deniz ERSÖZ, Culture & Tourism Counsellor of the Turkish Embassy in India said. “With the launch of new direct flight to Turkey, the number should be much better. Of course, saying some number is easy, but we want to have 250,000 tourists if we can,” he later added on an optimistic note. Turkish Airlines and IndiGo have also recently entered into codeshare agreement.
In 2016 and 2017, other than participating in fairs like SATTE, the Turkish Tourism Board did not pull out all the stops here. But that has changed from 2018, also reflected in the record arrival of Indian tourists last year. In addition to participating in fairs like SATTE, Turkish Tourism will focus more on roadshows, B2B meetings and having some joint activities with some of the key players of the industry. It also plans to reach out to corporates directly and organise some special events to interact with the corporates.
“We want to come back to do a couple of roadshows this year. We know that India is a big country. The next roadshow will be by the end of February when we plan to come back for the six city road shows in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune. In June or July, we want to do one more roadshow covering different cities. Maybe in addition to Delhi and Mumbai, we will go to let’s say Kochi or Chandigarh in place of Hyderabad. We will try to visit as many cities as possible. We know that apart from big cities, tier II and tier III cities also have big potential and we have to increase our visibility there as well,” said ERSÖZ in his interaction on the sidelines of SATTE recently.
Commenting on product push planned for the Indian market, ERSÖZ mentioned that the tourism board will have plans to grow its share of MICE and wedding segments from India as well. He said, “Last year, while we reached the record number, MICE and wedding played a huge role. Istanbul hosted lots of big groups, and the demand this year is much better. But, we also want to showcase Izmir and Antalya as MICE destinations too as Istanbul is already known to everyone. They are very attractive destinations to the corporates and of course the FITs. Also, although we did not have too many weddings but we hosted about 20 Indian wedding which was a record. These weddings had good feedback from the Turkish tourism industry and we think that hosting weddings also plays some role in attracting FITs as well. This year we want to make it 30 weddings.”