The 9th International Resort Tourism Congress Held at Nest Convention Center

The International Resort Tourism Congress, the 9th of which was organized this year by the Mediterranean Tourism Hoteliers and Operators Association (AKTOB) started with a cocktail held on November 27. 

In his speech at the cocktail held at Nest Congress Center in the Belek Tourism Center, AKTOB President Erkan Yağcı described the congress as "the largest meeting of the industry". 

Speaking at the opening of the congress, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy mentioned that radical changes have been made on tourism policies since 2018 and said: "We raised the advertising spending from $18 million in 2018 to $72 million this year. We allocated a significant part of our resources to promotion. And we experienced its impact. In 2020, a grant of $125 million will be provided. We plan to raise it to $145, $165 and $185 million in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.”

Making a presentation on Turkey's tourism strategy for 2023, Ersoy said: "Last year, tourism grew by 5.4 percent on a global scale, while it grew by 21 percent in Turkey. Turkey is growing more rapidly compared to the world. Our target for 2023 is 75 million tourists, we are raising the bar much higher.” Explaining that the number of visitors fell by 25 percent in 2016 due to the crisis that began with the downing of the Russian plane, but a process of improvement began in 2017, Ersoy informed that the recovery process took place in 2018, with an increase of 49 percent. 

Mentioning that Turkey ranked the 6th in terms of the number of tourists, and 14th in terms of revenues on a global scale, Ersoy reminded that the tourism revenues were expected to be $65 billion in 2023. Informing that tourism revenues reached $29.5 billion last year, with a growth of 12 percent, Ersoy mentioned that the growth rate of global tourism revenues in the same period was 4.4 percent. 

Pointing out that their goal is to achieve a tourism revenue of $34 billion in Turkey for this year, Ersoy said that the local spending of citizens with international residency decreased, while the spending of foreign visitors increased.

We changed the tourism policies

We changed the tourism policies as of 2018 and made radical changes to achieve the 2023 targets. We raised the advertising spending from $18 million in 2018 to $72 million this year. We allocated a significant part of our resources to promotion. And we experienced its impact. In 2020, a grant of $125 million will be provided. We plan to raise it to $145, $165 and $185 million in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. 

Mentioning that they used to focus their efforts mainly on trade fairs in the past, Ersoy informed that they had carried out promotional activities in all media outlets such as television, magazines, digital channels, outdoor press PR, editorial articles, fairs and social media since the last quarter of last year.

Explaining that they carried out promotional activities not only in the three main markets which are Russia, Germany and the UK, but also in different countries, Ersoy stated that they provided television advertising in 3 countries, and will be present in 18 countries in 2020.

A Flavor Map of Turkey will be issued

Stating that higher education institutions which provide education in the field of gastronomy will be matched with hotels, Ersoy said that scholarships would be provided by hotels to 15 percent of students who graduated from vocational high schools of tourism for undergraduate studies. 

Mentioning that new cities will be added to brand cities that are registered by UNESCO, such as Gaziantep and Hatay, and the number will be raised to 7, Ersoy informed that they would focus on the promotion of the flavor maps. 

Saying that Turkey's gastronomic routes as part of the European cultural routes, will be increased, Ersoy said: "We will declare 2020 to be the year of the Turkish cuisine. We will bring expert chefs together, review the menus and ensure that they gradually present them at restaurants." 

The time period for archeological excavations will be raised to 12 months

20, 60 and 122 excavation sites will become operational for 12 months by the end of this year, by the end of next year and from then on, respectively. New ancient cities will be opened to visitors, and the excursion areas of the existing ones will be increased. Hence, new cultural routes that will be integrated with our cultural and tourism potential will be developed. We will continue to open new museums across Turkey. We raised the number of visitors of our museums by 37 percent and their revenues by 90 percent. In this respect, the use of Müzekart (Museum card) also increased. Museum fees are occasionally criticized. The museum fees in Turkey are below the European average of such fees. The visiting fees for museums will increase, but there will be no increase in the Müzekart prices.

Referring to the cycling tourism, Ersoy stated that Turkey had the world's best cycling routes according to the cycling authorities, but they were not fully utilized.  Informing that the global cycling tourism market is $44 billion, Ersoy said that routes for terrain and road cycling tourism will be created to get a share from this market. 

Mentioning that their goal is to raise the number of bicycle-friendly hotels from the current figure of 100 to 1500 in 2023, Ersoy said that they will create faith centers and routes, considering accommodation and transportation infrastructure as well.

We had a good season

Speaking at the congress, the Antalya Governor, Munir Karaloğlu said, “We had a good season this year in Antalya. We had the best season ever all together, with daily records, monthly records and finally, an annual record. Obviously, tourist numbers alone do not mean everything. That’s why I care so much about congresses like this one where the future of the tourism industry, the tourism of the future, and the future tourism trends are discussed. This is the fourth resort congress that I attended this year and I learn a lot from the congresses every year. We will hopefully hear about news of tourism here, this year as well. I anticipate that we will leave this hall with new information that will contribute to the formation of our new visions for the future.”

We are establishing the Antalya Tourism Association

Speaking at the Congress, Metropolitan Mayor of Antalya, Muhittin Böcek said that the number of tourists that Antalya hosts is nine times its population. Stating that this brings an extra burden to municipal services in many areas from infrastructure and environment to transportation and sanitation, Mayor Böcek said: “We are establishing the Antalya Tourism Association to provide solutions with the participation of all stakeholders”.

In his opening speech at the congress, President of the Mediterranean Tourism Hoteliers and Operators Association (AKTOB), Dr. Erkan Yağcı said that AKTOB keeps the pulse and acts as the voice of the tourism industry during the growth of tourism in Turkey.

Speaking at the opening program, Chairman of the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED), Osman Ayık said: "Tourism is very important for Turkey and on a global scale. The world is going through difficult times. The more people travel, the easier it will be to establish world peace. If you take a look at the 2018 figures, you can see that 1.4 billion people traveled. It is estimated that 1.8 billion people will travel in 2030. This will ensure that people know each other and establish security. As a result, we will have a more peaceful world. This will lead to an increase in the welfare of individuals and communities. Our future is with this industry. We need to take all our steps in this direction.”

Turkey reassures the world 

The keynote speaker of the congress, the CEO of Sören Hartmann Rewe Group, Sören Harttman said: "Turkey has been successful in all regions and it reassures the world. You have one of the best products in the world and give your guests the best time, we combine it with good flights and organize the travel. We all look at the prices first and teach our customers to do that as well. We acknowledge the individual features and differences of the target markets; for instance, there are differences between Britain and Germany as there are differences for Turkey as well. Package tours must be calculated considering these differences. But this is not so important. We are a financially stable company. We have financial security. This applies to others as well. But, you need to control it.” 

Speaking at the Congress, DenizBank CEO, Hakan Ateş said that Turkey should invest more in tourism, which is like petrol for Turkey.