BY FEHMI KOFTEOGLU
The competition between Turkey and Spain as to who can be the Mediterranean country to welcome the most foreign visitors continues with just one month left in the year. The top of the leaderboard has vacillated between the two countries since June. Turkey surpassed Spain in July in this competition for the first time in its history.
Spain, which welcomed 15.7 million foreign visitors in the first eight months of the COVID-19-year 2020, hosted just under 15 million tourists in the same period of 2021, according to the Spanish Statistical Office (INE). With this decrease, Spain fell behind Turkey for the first time.
The total number of visitors hosted by Turkey in 2021 has reached 21.5 million as of September. This figure may reach 25 million by the end of the year, though Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy has frequently revised expectations. Recently, the expected figure published by the ministry was raised to 28 million for 2021.
For Spain, this figure is estimated to hover around 25 million for 2021, when possible arriving tourists through the end of the year are counted.
If the number of foreign visitors exceeds 25 million, Turkey will end 2021 as the leader of this competition.
TURKISH CITIZENS LIVING ABROAD
Turkey took the lead for the first time in its history with the support of Turkish citizens living abroad. The number of foreign tourists who arrived in Turkey was 17.5 million in the first nine months of the year, while this figure totaled 19.7 million in Spain in the same period.
In addition to foreign tourists, 3.9 million Turkish citizens living abroad visited Turkey in the January-September period, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
In this case, the total number of visitors, which stood at 17.5 million in Spain, totaled 21.5 million in Turkey.
TOURIST NUMBERS DOUBLED SINCE 2000
The total number of foreign tourists exceeded 21 million in January- October, according to TurkStat. This figure corresponds to half of its pre-pandemic level in 2019, but it doubles the number of tourists that came to Turkey in 2020.
The number of foreign visitors totaled 40.7 million in the first ten months of 2019, but only 11.2 million in the same period of 2020, according to TurkStat. Russia topped the list of visitors by country with 4.3 million tourists, followed by Germany with 2.7 million visitors.
Tourism revenues up in Turkey and Greece
The fact that tourism revenue doesn’t increase with the number of foreign visitors, an issue which has been justifiably criticized for years, has now changed. Turkey and Greece’s tourism revenues increased more than the percentage increase in the number of visitors in the January-October period of this year.
According to the Bank of Greece, the country’s tourism revenue surged by 150.8% while the number of visitors rose by 124.4% in January-October versus the same period last year. The number of foreign tourists who visited Turkey increased by 87% in the same period, but Turkey’s tourism revenues climbed by 106% in the first nine months of the year, compared to last year, according to the Central Bank.
Tourism creates more, low-cost jobs
Investment made in the tourism industry provides more employment at a lower cost as compared to the other sectors, according to the Ministry of Industry and Technology.
The cost per person employed in projects for which the Industry and Technology Ministry provided investment incentives amounts to TRY 788,794, according to the data prepared by Daily DUNYA correspondent Huseyin Gokce. This same figure is TRY 881,462 for the mining industry and TRY 874,030 for the services sector. The most expensive sector in which to employ a person is energy, at TRY 912,500. The cost per employed person is TRY 664,912 in the agriculture industry – cheaper than the tourism sector.
0.5 people are employed per bed in accommodation facilities in Turkey. The tourism industry employs over 800,000 people in the accommodation sector alone. There are 13,140 accommodation facilities in Turkey with a capacity of more than 1.6 million beds.
Provincial Promotion and Development Boards established in 53 cities
Turkey’s global promotion channel is now actively and officially used under the name “goturkiye”, according to Tourism and Culture Minister Mehmet Ersoy. Speaking during the presentation regarding the 2022 budget of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism before parliament, Ersoy said they have implemented a “Provincial Promotion and Development Program” in order to more actively promote the country’s provinces and sub destinations in the national and international arena. “As part of the program, Provincial Promotion and Development Boards have been established in 53 cities. Boards in the remaining provinces will be established by April 2022 at the latest, at which point the process will be completed,” Ersoy added.
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