Talking about Turkey without thinking about Thanksgiving
Next year will not only witness the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, but also the 2018 Turkey Tourism Year in China. Unlike the European year, the Turkish one was initiated by the Chinese side to help Turkey to regain its position as an important destination for Chinese travellers.
Arrival numbers from China to Turkey had been growing nicely from less than 100,000 in 2011 to more than 300,000 in 2015, but took a dive in 2016. This year will probably see a return to the 2014 level and, according to ForwardKeys data, the bookings for the Chinese New Year 2018 look promising.
Still, given the multiple attractions the country has to offer and the convenient connectivity in terms of available E-visa and direct flight connections between Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong and Istanbul, more could be achieved.
In the year 2013 a Year of Turkish Culture in China was celebrated, which included exhibitions of Chinese porcelains in Turkey, concerts of the 140-member strong Turkish Presidential Symphony Orchestra and performances by Turkish opera singers and ballet dancers in twelve cities across China. The impact, however, was limited.
For 2018 preparations are underway to concentrate more on the tourism trade side of the activities and to show the diversity of the offers of Turkey as a destination. Your humble editor recently had the opportunity to give a presentation at the 2018 Turkey Tourism Year in China in Istanbul, a city which is rapidly transforming into a modern megacity, with a new airport to open in October 2018.
According to COTRI research, Turkey’s image among Chinese travellers is very good: various activities with affordable cost can be done at a number of famous places and ancient cities. The Aegean Sea, the Seven Wonders, Troy, Izmir, and Istanbul are mentioned many times in Chinese schoolbooks.
Turkish food is recommended by those who have travelled to Turkey, the people are described as hospitable and friendly. Several successful reality TV shows have put images of the county’s beautiful landscapes, broadcast from hot-air balloons and into the minds of Chinese potential visitors.
What is needed, as in many destinations, is a deeper understanding of the Chinese source market and more products and services customised for Chinese group and FIT visitors. Such customers offer a good chance not only to fill up the empty space left by diminishing arrivals from European countries, but to bring opportunities to destinations within Turkey away from the beach and away from the summer season.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt.
The COTRI Weekly, 28 November 2017, 11:02