Turkey welcomed 36.8 million international tourists in 2014 according to the Turkish Tourist Office. It thus remained number 6 in the ranking of most attractive destinations worldwide. According to figures from MKG Hospitality, the occupancy rate at Turkish hotels fell a percentage point between 2013 and 2014, to reach 64.9%. Nonetheless, with the increase in average daily rate (excl. VAT) from 15.2% to 137 dollars US, the Revenue per available room climbed 13.4%.
Two cities act as gateways to the country, with more than 60% of international tourist arrivals: Istanbul welcomed 11.8 million travelers and Antalya, on the Mediterranean shores, 11.5 million. Mugla (3.15 million), Edirne (3.1 million) follows on the border with Greece, and Artvin (1.87 million) on the Georgian border.
Germany remains the number one supply market with 5.25 million arrivals. Russian clientele (4.48 million) and British clientele (2.6 million) complete the podium. The goal set by the Minister of Culture and Tourism is for 50 million international tourists in 2023. To achieve this, the country is investing massively in transportation, particularly in airline transport.
Airports growing like mushrooms
The Istanbul-Atatürk airport has become the fourth European airport in 2014 with 56.76 million passengers. It is after the hubs of London-Heathrow (73.4 million), Paris CDG (63.8 million) and Frankfurt (59.56 million). Even more impressive, the airport experienced a 10.6% increase in arrivals between 2013 and 2014 and since 2008 traffic has doubled with 28 million more passengers. The city's second airport is following a growth path that is also steady. With a 25% increase in its activity between 2013 and 2014, Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen brought together 23.5 million passengers last year. We also observe that in 2017, the city should open a third airport, located 35 km from the Ataturk airport, on the Black Sea Coast. Turkish Airlines, the primary airline company in the country reported record figures for 2014 with a 13% increase in its turnover.
In order to continue to attract Russian clientele, who are experiencing the economic hardship of the country since the depreciation of the ruble, the Turkish government announced that it will subsidize the cost of fuel for airplanes coming from Russia. Suggesting how important tourism is to Turkish authorities, the Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu himself announced at the beginning of February that a subsidy of 6,000 dollars per airplane would accorded to all passenger airplanes coming from Russia during the next two months, in order to avoid any eventual cancellations and support Russian demand. This fuel subsidy for passenger planes also applies to flights from Iran, another important source for Turkey. In addition, the government facilitated credit for Tour Operators, naturally a major growth engine for international arrivals in the country.
A larger hotel supply
Despite the increase in tourist arrivals, the occupancy rate of Turkish hotels fell by a percentage point between 2013 and 2014 to reach 64.9%, according to data from MKG Hospitality. This may be explained by the arrival of many new hotel structures to meet strong demand (ex: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum with 86 rooms and 23 apartments and the Raffles Istanbul with 132 rooms). The creation of the new supply supports the increase in international arrivals, and has a slight impact on occupancy rate.
While the occupancy rate in 2014 falls slightly, the increase in average daily rate (VAT excl.) by 15.2% to 137 US dollars, the Revenue per available room (RevPAR) climbed 13.4%. In Istanbul, the occupancy rate dropped between 2013 and 2014 by 2.3 percentage points, but the RevPAR increased by 11.9% thanks to a 15.6% increase in average daily rate (VAT excl.). Other touristic cities in the country experienced a stable occupancy rate (+0.1 point) but with an average daily rate up by 17%, the RevPAR increased by 17.2%, thanks in particular to the upscale hotel segment of resort destinations.
New properties are joining the ranks of Istanbul's hotels in 2015. Among the new arrivals, the Hyatt Regency Istanbul Ataköy, the third Hyatt hotel in the shores of the Bosphorus, opened a few days ago. The five-star property will have 284 rooms including 30 suites. Also in the upscale range, the 118 room St. Regis Istanbul opened its doors in the beginning of March. The Soho House concept will also open in March in Istanbul.
Promoting patrimony to boost tourism
While the country is not organizing major sports and cultural events this year (except for Anzac 2015 in March), it will attempt to attract new tourists by highlighting its rich heritage. Izmir, for example, has joined the gastronomic chain Délice alongside Lyon, Barcelona, Lisbon, Osaka and Chicago while the archaeological site of Pergamon and the city of Bursa have entered the patrimony of UNESCO. Turkey clearly wants to steer away from its sun and beach reputation.
- Steigenberger opens its first hotel in Istanbul
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