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Turkey looks to ride the wave of growing inbound tourism from the GCC

Turkey<.> is to stage its biggest ever promotion at Arabian Travel Market (ATM<.>), in Dubai this May as…

Turkey<.> is to stage its biggest ever promotion at Arabian Travel Market (ATM<.>), in Dubai this May as the country looks to build on a surge in outbound tourism from the GCC.

The Turkish Tourism and Information Office is mounting a 141 square metre pavilion at Arabian Travel Market 2002, which will be held at the Airport Expo Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from May 7-10 – the pavilion is 18% bigger than last year.

The expanded ATM participation comes as Turkey celebrates a 71% increase in its tourism arrivals from the Gulf and looks for even bigger regional gains.

"In the first nine months of last year some 30,947 tourists from the Gulf visited Turkey, compared to 18,080 for the same period in 2000," said Hasan Zongur, Information Attache at the Turkish Tourism and Information Office in Kuwait. "Many factors have played a role in the increasing tourist numbers, but Arabian Travel Market activities is one of the most important.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest GCC tourism market for Turkey – in the first nine months of last year arrivals from the Kingdom touched 19,474 – almost a 35% increase on 2002. Kuwait provided the next largest numbers is tourism to Turkey from the state almost tripling to 5,077. Tourist traffic from the UAE virtually doubled to 3,266 while arrivals from Bahrain more than tripled to 2,153. Qatar and Oman, though amounting to smaller tourism market for Turkey, accounted for 492 and 485 arrivals respectively.

"Our arrivals from Qatar more than quadrupled last year while those from Oman were heading for a four-fold increase," said Zongur.

Despite the huge surge in traffic from the Gulf, Zongur says the Middle East still accounts for only 1.66% of all tourism arrivals to Turkey.

"Taking into account the potential of the Middle East and the propensity of people in the region to travel, we believe our market share remains insufficient and we have to boost it further," said Zongur.

"Currently tourists from EU represent 61.24% of Turkey's total tourism arrivals and the Middle East share should be judged against that. In the coming years our target is to ensure that the Middle East accounts for a market share of at least 10% of all our tourism arrivals."

The Turkish tourism and Information Office is one of 36 national/state official tourist bodies currently contracted for Arabian Travel Market 2002, which is organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE).

"The exhibitor profile currently spans 38 countries, a mix of both inbound and outbound destinations, which demonstrates the continuing appeal of the Middle East market in times of an international industry slowdown," said Matt Thompson, Group Exhibition Director (Overseas Events), RTE.

"Turkey's objectives appear to have been significantly met by the show and the prospective of continuing to live up to its expectations are strong with 62% of exhibitors polled after last year's exhibition saying they had generated on-site sales enquiries."

Arabian Travel Market 2002 represents the ninth in the highly-successful annual series, the only travel and tourism event with a true Pan Arab reach. RTE says despite the international travel downturn it expects this year's event to match its record 2001 showing when over 700 exhibitors from 59 countries participated and over 10,000 people, including 6,336 trade professionals visited.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.