Turkey aims to woo 1 million Chinese this year
Turkey's beleaguered tourism sector aims to attract over 1 million Chinese this year to compensate for the dwindling foreign arrivals from Europe and Russia, tourism professionals say.
"Turkey should urgently expand its target market to China as the country faces one of its worst years when it comes to tourism," says Cetin Gurcun, secretary general of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies.
Repeated terror attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities amid a deteriorating security situation, coupled with poor relations with Russia, have brought down the number of foreign travelers and revenues to an extent that is being felt by all in the industry.
Serdar Ibis, member of the board of the travel company Dorak Tour, which focuses on Asian tourists, says: "Turkey should target at least 1 million Chinese tourists this year."
Turkey's tourism professionals say that it is possible to meet the 1 million Chinese target as the country's unique cultural tourism, which combines the modern with the ancient, appeals to Chinese visitors.
"Turkey has everything that a Chinese tourist would like. It is home to many civilizations－Seljuk, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman," says Ibis.
Gurcun also says that TURSAB, or the association of Turkey's travel agencies, is determined to provide all the support needed to tourism agencies to attract more Chinese visitors in the short term.
The number of Chinese visiting Turkey in 2015 was 314,000, according to TURSAB data.
In the first quarter of 2016, Turkey saw a drop of 17 percent in foreign arrivals.
Turkey's Mediterranean resort of Antalya, a big draw for Russians, saw their arrivals fall by 90 percent in the first three months of this year.
Moscow imposed punitive measures, including a travel ban on Ankara, soon after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November last year, a move that has had a major impact as Russians used to constitute Turkey's second largest source of tourists after Germany.
The bombings that have hit Turkey this year and claimed more than 80 lives, among them 12 German tourists in Istanbul, have also hit tourism.
Meanwhile, the threat of more attacks has prompted a wave of cancellations.