Home Business & Finance Turkey rises in popularity as shopping destination; Foreign tourist spend climbs to new highs

Turkey rises in popularity as shopping destination; Foreign tourist spend climbs to new highs

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By Jennifer De Guzman

DUBAI: One in every eight Turkish Lira is now generated by the nation’s travel and tourism sector. According to a recent report[1], the sector contributed TL 461.3 billion (USD 95.6 billion) to the country’s economy in 2018, with the sector now representing a 12.1% share of the Turkish economy. Growth in the Turkey’s tourism sector has in fact outpaced the global growth rate: the nation’s travel and tourism economy grew by 15% in 2018, significantly higher than the global growth rate of 3.9%.

‘The travel and tourism sector plays a crucial role as a driver of economic growth, job creation and social inclusion. Repeat visits from tourists from the GCC countries in particular help fuel the growth of this sector. We expect tourist spending in Turkey to continue undeterred through to the end of this year as the number of visitors bound for Turkish cities rises,’ noted Salih Ozer, Attaché of Culture and Information, Turkey to the UAE.

The report further ranked the Turkish city of Istanbul eighth in the world for international spend, accruing USD 16.3 billion in visitor exports, ahead even of other popular European destinations such as London, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam. A large slice of this spend has been attributed to Turkey’s growing popularity as a shopping destination.

A significant spike has been reported in the number of international tourists — particularly tourists from neighbouring Arab Countries — travelling into Turkey to shop, especially for high-end designer and luxury brands. According to recent estimates[2], foreign tourists held a notable share in the turnover of shopping centres in Turkey last year: shopping with foreign cards amounted to TL 26.3 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 76% year-on-year.

‘This increase in foreign tourist spend within Turkey has also resulted in growth for the nation’s retail sector. Travellers can enjoy greater value for their money in Turkey when compared to other popular destinations around the world across a wide spectrum of goods and services,’ added the attaché.

The 2018 research also shows that leisure travellers primarily drove the tourism sector in Turkey with 87% spending generated by leisure visitors and 13% from business travellers. The sector is also strongly weighted towards international travel: 61% of the spending came from international travellers and 39% from domestic travel.


[1] Source: World Travel and Tourism Council’s City Travel & Tourism Impact Report;

Turkey tops European Travel &Tourism growth ranking in 2018

[2] Source: Shopping with foreign cards up 76%, hits over TL 26B in 2018

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