by Homayoun Zarghani
Antalya is a family-friendly destination situated along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and in the heights of the Anatolian Peninsula. In this city, you’ll experience the historical transformations in the remnants of an amazing Old Town and the beautiful views of the sea, always among the most attractive recreational destinations for families from various countries worldwide. If you visit this city, be sure to check out the Düden Waterfall and Tahtali Mountain for their exceptional hiking routes and breathtaking views.
I recently travelled to this city at the invitation of Mr SelÇuk Merall, founder and Chairman of Antalya Tourism Fair 2023 (ATF), to familiarize myself closely with the activities of agents, hotel facilities, and tour operators participating in this fair from Turkey and various countries. The fair, in its fifth edition held on the 26th and 27th of October 2023, hosted over 23,000 tourism professionals from 58 different countries. It’s a significant and exemplary event, not to be overlooked, both in terms of unity in booth design and creating suitable spaces for trade negotiations and for accessibility to emerging tourism markets and destinations. I want to share some of my observations and findings with the readers:
The fifth edition of the Antalya Tourism Fair in Turkey had unique features. Major players in the regional tourism industry gathered to strengthen various tourism markets and investigate developmental and mutually beneficial capacities.
Another noteworthy aspect of this fair was showcasing suitable accommodation facilities that could be of considerable interest to the audience. These hotels, mainly located in coastal areas, announce substantial infrastructure investments in the lodging industry in Turkey, particularly in the city of Antalya.
At the Antalya Tourism Fair 2023, 680 tourism brands, including 270 major brands and 410 subsidiary products, were exhibited.
This fair, held concurrently with the centennial celebration of the Turkish Independence, hosted numerous specialized meetings where different panels covered various topics discussed by 97 speakers. These sessions provided first-hand information for analyzing the travel market in 2024 within the tourism sector. An overview of the combination of players participating in the Antalya Tourism Fair indicated Turkey’s determination to achieve new thresholds in tourism for 2024.
Mr Meral should be regarded as an influential figure in Turkey’s tourism industry, having managed to bring all major stakeholders together by organizing this exhibition and promoting Antalya as a rich destination in the field of tourism. In an exclusive conversation with SAFAR Magazine, he stated: “Antalya has the capacity to meet the demands of any guest. Furthermore, in terms of service quality and price, it excels when compared to other destinations. The short flight distance to regions like Europe, the Middle East, and Balkan countries, along with the high correlation between quality and price, has transformed Antalya into a preferred tourist destination.”
The Chairman of the ATF 2023 emphasized: “Antalya has diverse tourism that suits every target group. This city can be suitable for various areas like children, youth, parents, health tourism, culture, music, and leisure tours. In 2023, Russia ranked first, and Germany second in terms of the number of tourists flying to Antalya. Following Russia and Germany, British tourists rank next.”
The potential for developing tourism between Iran and Turkey is very high
Mr Merall believes that the potential for developing tourism between Iran and Turkey is very high, despite some obstacles, and is on a path of growth. She said: “The deeper it gets, the more time passes, the more depth there is in the tourism development market between Iran and Turkey. Iran has significant potential to attract Turkish tourists, and the country is a growing market. If the obstacles decrease, flight numbers increase, and access becomes easier, the Iranian market will expand rapidly. This causes a day-to-day increase in professional Turkish tourism’s attention to Iran. Iran is an important market, which includes commercial tourism, leisure tourism, and cultural tourism.”
Travel agencies are still at the centre of attention
Halil Seyhan, a tourism activist and the director of Elpis Travel Agency, who has been active in the travel market for 10 years, has expanded her activities in the tourism markets of Europe and the Middle East over the past years. When asked about the widespread use of online reservations globally, he explained the approach travel service agencies have taken and how they continue to grow amidst competition. He stated, “Technology is rapidly expanding, and not only travel agencies but all businesses must adapt to these changes. However, in some countries, like Turkey, when a customer makes an online purchase and decides to cancel it, it takes two to three days to refund the money to the customer’s account. Furthermore, the design of special tours is still being done by customers at travel agencies. The required agility in designing travel needs is still in the hands of professional travel agencies.”
Tourism Development in the Shadow of Regional Tensions
While regional tensions in the Mediterranean and the Balkans have escalated in recent years, certainly impacting the incomes derived from tourism in these regions, Turkey’s strong tourism infrastructure and high air transport accessibility have managed to make the key players in the country’s tourism industry agile. Leveraging their infrastructures correctly, they have been actively promoting their activities in various countries worldwide. In Antalya alone, 61 airlines have flight schedules from 255 cities, ensuring private sector stakeholders always have stable conditions for the future development of tourism.
If we consider what the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, has stated, more than 15 million people have travelled to Antalya this year, surpassing the statistics from 2019. He has coined this year as a ‘golden year’ for Turkey’s pivotal economic sector.
“Both income and the number of tourists are higher than the statistics from 2019, which were before the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. This is very encouraging.”
Turkey has declared its intention to earn $55.6 billion from the tourism industry by the end of 2023. According to the nine-month data from the tourism sector throughout the country, an income of $42 billion (11.92 trillion lire) has been achieved, indicating progress towards reaching the ultimate annual goal of $55.6 billion.