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article imageDespite Middle East turmoil Turkey is still a tourist destination

By James Walker     Oct 21, 2014 in Travel
The terror treat from the Middle East may be expected to have had a negative impact on tourism in the area but reports from tourist boards show this isn't true for neighbouring Turkey as 42 million are expected to visit the country by the end of the year.
The figure represents a drastic increase from the 10 million visitors of 2000, and the capital Istanbul is now the 7th most visited city in the world, with 11.6million visitors expected this year. Detroit Free Press reports that despite its location in a region only 1,000 miles from political chaos, tour coaches still crowd the streets, bumper to bumper.
The country is aided by its pretty towns, beautiful scenery and good home security, letting it remain a good prospect for tourists who have been traditionally attracted to its many positive attributes. Basaran Ulusoy, president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, said "Turkey is not the same country as it was in the first Gulf crisis. People know that Turkey is a secure country." This may be reassuring to holiday-seekers, knowing that a desirable location is safe to visit. Contrary to what may be expected, one travel agency, Alsahhab Travel, even says that demand for their "daily tours" production has actually increased this year despite the area's problems, further indicating that most think the region is safe to travel to.
Tourism revenue is expected to be up to $35 billion this year, a 6 percent growth. 5,214,519 visited the nation this July, a 13.5 percent increase on the same month last year, with the majority coming from Iraq, Iran, Greece, Russia, Bulgaria and the UK.
Turkish exports are suffering though, with shipping costs rising as companies avoid the area and consumer demand slowing. Trade partnerships to Iraq are being destroyed as Isil disrupts the country and tourist boards in America and Europe have warned that there is a risk of terrorist attacks in eastern and south eastern Turkey due to its proximity to the conflict locations, despite any major trouble occurring in the country yet.
The tourism market within the country is diversifying to ensure it remains an attractive location. Whereas many visitors of the past few years have been lured to sunny, sandy beaches, there is now a continued push towards allowing outsiders to see and experience more of Turkish culture. Often overlooked by tourists, many are now finding time to learn more about the country they are a guest in, experiencing a lifestyle often very different to their own. The country has 17 ports capable of accommodating cruise lines and these continue to frequent the nation.
The news is encouraging then, although still tainted by the close presence of the threat of terror strikes and conflict from the Middle East. Turkish exports may be struggling but tourism still seems to be thriving, despite many foreign nations warning their populations that the region could be unsafe. The effect of ISIL in Iraq on the rest of the world is starting to become clear and it will be interesting to see its influence on Turkey and its varied visitors over the course of the next year to 2015, as the west steps up its preventative actions against ISIL.
More about Turkey, Middle East, Turmoil, ISIL, Tourism
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