According to figures published by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreigners visiting Turkey in January 2020 increased by 16.1% to 1,787,435 compared with the figure for the same month of the previous year.
The number of OECD Europeans visiting Turkey in January 2020 improved to 385,165, 11.1% more than the figure for the same month of the previous year. The largest European contingent was from Germany with 122,416 visitors, up 19.9% on the number for the same month of the previous year, followed by Greece with 48,237 visitors, up 0.4%, by the UK with 37,660 visitors, up 9.5%, and by France with 31,356 visitors, up 11.9%. The number of visitors from Turkey’s Black Sea neighbours continued to increase in January 2020, with 162,199 visitors from Bulgaria, up 21.2%, with 132,674 visitors from Georgia, up 18.1%, with 130,608 visitors from Russia, up 42.4%, with 54,788 visitors from Azerbaijan, up 16.8%, and with 40,109 visitors from Ukraine, up 7%. Visitors from two of Turkey’s southern neighbours have also shown increases in January 2020. Visitors from Iran increased 24.8% to 120,527, and from Iraq 12% to 79,638. The border with Iran has been partially shut down on February 23rd due to fears that the cases of the corona virus found in Iran might spread to Turkey. Such precautions will drastically cut the number of visitors to Turkey from ıran in the coming months.
The total number of foreigners visiting Turkey in the year 2019 increased by 14.1% to 45,058,286 compared with the previous year. The number of OECD Europeans visiting Turkey in the year 2019 was 15,162,487, 16% more than the figure for the previous year. The largest European contingent was from Germany with 5,027,472, up 11.4%, followed by the UK with 2,562,064 visitors, up 13.6%, by Holland with 1,117,290 visitors, up 10.2%, by Poland with 880,839 visitors, up 36.3%, by France with 875,957 visitors, up 19.8%, and by Greece with 836,882 visitors, up 21.8%. The number of visitors from Russia increased by 17.7% to 7,017,657, from Ukraine by 11.6% to 1,547,996 visitors, from Bulgaria by 13.7% to 2,713,464 visitors, from Iraq by 17.2% to 1,374,896 visitors, and from Iran by 5.1% to 2,102,890 visitors. The number of visitors from Georgia decreased by 3.6% to 1,995,254 in 2019. The total number of visitors coming to Turkey in 2019 including Turkish citizens residing abroad is 51,747,199 visitors, a 12.2% increase on the figure for the previous year. The number of Turkish citizens residing abroad who came to Turkey in 2019 was 6,688,913 visitors, a 1% increase on the previous year.
The continued upward trend in the number of tourists coming to Turkey in 2019, when the total foreign visitors surpassed 45 million, a new record, has been a very satisfactory development in Turkey’s tourism sector, and a great boost to the Turkish economy as a whole at a time of ongoing economic recession. The inflow of much needed foreign currency has been a crucial bonus. This trend is expected to continue in 2020 and the years thereafter unless any new adverse geo-political event should evolve and scare away tourists. Turkey’s involvement in the internal conflict in northern Syria and the potential spreading of the corona virus through Iran for example to Turkey are two current potential risks for the Turkish tourism industry.