Despite lots of obstacles, travelers are still heading to Turkey by the millions.
Put an autocratic government, an increasingly more Islamic population, and a muzzling of the press into a blender and what happens to tourism? When the country has as much going for it as Turkey does, apparently not much. Travel to Turkey from Europe is up by more than 30% this year.
Overall, Turkey is on a roll, thanks in part to ironing out differences with Russia. Tourism from that country is up 70% in 2018. There was a spat that went on for about two years when Turkey downed a Russian fighter plane, but by April of last year, the Russians were flooding back. Since they comprise about 15% of the Turkish tourism market, that’s a big deal. The other top visitors are Germany, Iran, Georgia, and the UK. Put one of each around a table with a Turk and that would be an interesting dinner party…
The Draw of Turkey
I have a stronger connection to Turkey than many other travelers after teaching English and traveling the country writing travel articles way back in the 1990s. I learned then and know now that this is a very large country that extends well beyond the well-worn tourist track along the western coast. Plus “history” here is not measured in hundreds of years. You can visit places in in this country that were bustling long before the time of Christ.
Turkey always has, and always will, continue to have much to offer. What has changed in the modern age is how easy it is to get there and get around. This is especially true if you’re coming from Europe. Anyone wanting to take a break to Istanbul, Ankara, or one of the other major cities in the country can often fly from any major UK or European airport for a fare often still only in double figures, even on Turkish Airlines if there’s a promotional deal. You can take off from home in the morning and be exploring your destination by mid-afternoon. It’s easy to set up airport transfers before you arrive and book excursions ahead of time with English-speaking guides.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cheap beach getaway, the southern coastal resorts along the Mediterranean and the Adriatic are some of the best bargains for those escaping colder places. Turkey presents a cost-effective option for families and couples looking to get the most for their money—and eat well too.
If you’re looking to do more than just sit on a beach, Turkey’s vast, barren, and mountainous landscapes are starting to attract more hikers and adventure sport lovers from Europe and beyond. If you come here on an adventure tour, you can spend the time mountain climbing, camping, and kayaking in the Turkish countryside at a fraction of the usual cost.
What really attracts people to Anatolia and keeps them coming back, however, despite the problems, is the rich cultural element. While much of Europe now feels standardized and similar, here you have thousands of years of culture, trade, and history that still live on in the food, the culture, and the landscapes. Almost everyone I’ve met who has been here has a story of kindness or hospitality. There’s real zest by Turkey to educate and share what it has with the world and they’re proud of what they have. Despite negative coverage by the media and politicians—often well-deserved—the travelers keep putting this destination on their travel list.
Despite all that’s going on in politics and a 10% unemployment rate, Turkey is still a major player on the tourist map. If you are a holidaymaker looking for a great travel deal this year in a place that won’t feel like home, this is a great option that’s not too far away.