Tourism in Turkey

Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care.[citation needed]

Pamukkale in Turkey is a World Heritage Site. Turkey has 622 National Parks
Number of international tourist arrivals

At its height in 2019, Turkey attracted around 51 million foreign tourists,[1] ranking as the sixth-most-popular tourist destination in the world.[2] The total number fluctuated between around 41 million in 2015, and around 30 million in 2016.[3][4] However, recovery began in 2017, with the number of foreign visitors increasing to 37.9 million, and in 2018 to 46.1 million visitors[5][6][7]



Dolmabahçe Palace is a popular tourism destination in Turkey.

Istanbul is one of the most important tourist spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as MetroCity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.

In January 2013, the Turkish government announced that it would build the world's largest airport in Istanbul. The operation has an invested 7-billion euros and was planned to have the first part of a four-part plan completed by 2017.[8]

As a consequence of the continuous fall in tourism to Turkey in recent years, as of October 2016 in Istanbul's famous bazaar once crowded shopping streets are not as crowded as before, "the streams of tourists who used to visit the market each day have trickled to a halt".[3] The number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul declined to 9.2  million in 2016, a 26 percent decrease compared to 2015.[9]


Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is the second most populated city in Turkey.[10] It is rich with Turkish history and culture that have roots in the founding of Turkey along with the history of ancient civilizations. The most popular landmark is the Anıtkabir as it has visitors from all around the country and the world, especially during national holidays.[11] The Anıtkabir is a mausoleum for Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. Another landmark would be the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, a museum that possesses works from Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman civilizations.[12]


Izmir is a city with historical and geopolitical importance in ancient civilizations such as Macedonia, Persia, Lydia, and the Ottomans.[13] The city has a memorable history in the early years of Turkey as it was the main city that was affected by the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).[14] Izmir is home to many ancient cities such as Ephesus, Pergamon, and Klazomenai.[15] Besides historical significance, Izmir also possesses many locations for coastal tourism for international travelers. Frequently visited regions that have tourist beaches for local and international tourists would be Çeşme, Mordoğan, and Foça.[16]

Other destinationsEdit

Beach vacations and Blue Cruises, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern coast, called the Turkish Riviera, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antalya is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.[17] Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Didim and Alanya. Also, Turkey has been chosen second in the world in 2015 with its 436 blue-flagged beaches, according to the Chamber of Shipping.[18]

Attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of the Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, ancient Pontic capital and king rock tombs with its acropolis in Amasya, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.

Diyarbakır is also an important historic city, although tourism is on a relatively small level due to waning armed conflicts.

Gallipoli and Anzac Cove – a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, which became known as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. Following the landing at Anzac Cove, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops for the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign.

Cappadocia is a region created by the erosion of soft volcanic stone by the wind and rain for centuries.[19] The area is a popular tourist destination, having many sites with unique geological, historic, and cultural features.

UNESCO World Heritage SitesEdit

As of 2021, Turkey accommodates 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 17 cultural and 2 mixed. The last addition is Arslantepe being added in 2021.[20]

Göbekli TepeEdit

Göbekli Tepe is a historical site that dates back to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic age. The site possesses megalithic structures that were composed of massive stone pillars that were detailed with anthropological details, clothing, and wild animals.[21] The structures give insights into the lifestyles of hunter-gatherers that date back to 11,500 years ago.[21] It is theorized that the site was created with religious intent as a sanctuary whilst more recent findings show the existence of domestic buildings that were used for rain collection and harvesting.[22]

Archaeological site of TroyEdit

Troy is an archeological world heritage site that was added to the list in 1998. The site dates back 4000 years. Troy showcases the cultural development of ancient Greece as it is a recurring city in ancient Greek literature.[23] In the area, many historical and archeological sites can be found such as burial mounds, cemeteries, settlements, and monuments that are linked to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans.[23]

Medical tourismEdit

An emerging branch of tourism in Turkey is medical tourism. Commonly performed medical procedures are hair transplant operations, rhinoplasty and cosmetic dentistry as it draws in thousands of foreigner tourists every year.[24][25] In 2021, the revenue generated from medical tourism was given as $1.05 billion with 642,000 people that visited for the purpose of getting medical service.[26] This is due to Turkey offering high-quality clinics for affordable pricing compared to the rest of Europe and its central location between Asia and Europe.[27] Other reasons for the high demand for healthcare in Turkey are foreigners having easy visa procedures and immediate scheduling for operations.[28]

Development of tourismEdit

Most tourist arrivals in Turkey come from the following countries:[29][30][7][31][32]

Rank Country 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
1   Russia   7,017,657   5,964,631   4,715,438   866,256 3,649,003
2   Germany   5,027,472   4,512,360   3,584,653   3,890,074 5,580,792
3   Bulgaria   2,713,464   2,386,885   1,852,867   1,690,766 1,821,480
4   United Kingdom   2,562,064   2,254,871   1,658,715   1,711,481 2,512,139
5   Iran   2,102,890   2,001,744   2,501,948   1,665,160 1,700,385
6   Georgia   1,995,254   2,069,392   2,438,730   2,206,266 1,911,832
7   Ukraine   1,547,996   1,386,934   1,284,735   1,045,043 706,551
8   Iraq   1,374,896   1,172,896   896,876   420,831 1,094,144
9   Netherlands   1,117,290   1,013,642   799,006   906,336 1,232,487
10   Azerbaijan   901,723   858,506   765,514   606,223 602,488
11   Poland   880,839   646,365   296,120   205,701 550,779
12   France   875,957   731,379   578,524   555,151 847,259
13   Greece   836,882   686,891   623,705   593,150 755,414
14   Romania   763,320   641,484   423,868   357,473 441,097
15   United States   578,074   448,327   329,257   459,493 798,787
16   Israel   569,368   443,732   380,415   293,988 224,568
17   Saudi Arabia   564,816   747,233   651,170   530,410 450,674
18   Belgium   557,435   511,559   419,998   413,614 617,406
19   Jordan   474,874   406,469   277,729   203,179 162,866
20   Kazakhstan   455,724   426,916   402,830   240,188 423,744
21   Sweden   444,285   384,397   289,134   320,580 624,649
22   China   426,344   394,109   247,277   167,570 313,704
23   Austria   401,475   353,628   287,746   310,946 486,044
24   Italy   377,011   284,195   205,788   213,227 507,897
25   Lebanon   376,721   338,837   237,476   191,642 197,552
26   Kuwait   374,191   298,620   255,644   179,938 174,486
27   Denmark   335,877   326,278   269,026   329,618 408,841
28   Czech Republic   311,359   228,251   126,567   87,328 212,464
29   Switzerland   311,107   269,649   206,479   215,194 380,338
30   Turkmenistan   297,706   252,911   230,881   165,762 174,330
31   Algeria   295,512   288,207   213,333   176,233 171,873
32   Serbia   282,347   225,312   146,852   110,594 178,997
33   Cyprus   268,341   266,859   256,059   233,181 246,245
34   Libya   259,243   188,312   99,395   72,014 234,762
35   Belarus   258,419   245,254   229,229   113,793 204,355
36   Spain   257,342   178,018   106,757   106,582 236,063
37   Uzbekistan   252,138   241,235   195,745   134,330 143,331
38   Morocco   234,264   176,538   114,155   87,660 109,775
39   India   230,131   147,127   86,996   79,316 131,869
40   Lithuania   229,704   199,371   134,264   109,749 112,654
Total   51,747,198   46,112,592   37,969,824   30,906,680 41,114,069
Visa policy of Turkey
  Unlimited stay
  Visa-free - 90 days
  Visa-free - 60 days
  Visa-free - 30 days
  eVisa - 90 days (multiple entries)
  eVisa - 30 days (single entry)
  eVisa - 30 days (Conditional)
  Visa required in advance

Foreign tourist arrivals increased substantially in Turkey between 2000 and 2005, from 8 million to 25 million, which made Turkey a top-10 destination in the world for foreign visitors. 2005 revenues were US$20.3 billion which also made Turkey one of the top-10 biggest revenue owners in the world. In 2011, Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and 4th in Europe, according to UNWTO World Tourism barometer.[33] See World Tourism rankings. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, still ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world.[2] From 2015, tourism to Turkey entered a steep decline.[34][35] In 2016, only around 30 million people visited Turkey. 2016 is described as the second year of huge losses on both visitor numbers and income, a "year of devastating losses", with Turkish tourism businesses stating that they "cannot remember a worse time in the sector".[3] The number of foreign visitors started recovering in 2017 with 37.9 million visitors being recorded. The recovery was partly due to intense security campaigns and advertising. The number of Russian tourists increased by 444% after the recovery of bilateral relations, resulting in Russia becoming the top tourism market for Turkey once again.[5][6] Increases were also recorded in the British, Dutch and Belgian markets.[36]

In early 2017, the Turkish government urged Turkish citizens living abroad to take their vacations in Turkey, attempting to revive the struggling tourism sector[37] of an economy that went into contraction from late 2016.[38] After the April 2017 constitutional referendum, another sharp drop in tourist bookings from Germany was recorded.[39] In 2018, however, the German Tourism Industry Association recorded a growth in German tourist bookings for Turkey, with a 70% increase being recorded by the TUI Group alone.[40]

Government policy and regulationEdit

The AKP government has been promoting "halal tourism" for years,[41] politically reaffirming this stance over the course of 2016.[42] In March 2017, a Turkish court banned global travel fare aggregator website from offering services to Turkish tourists for lack of a national licence,[43] while the Hoteliers Association of Turkey campaigns for a lifting the ban of the enterprise on which its members relied for up to 90 percent of their turnover.[44] In April 2017, the police department of the prime resort city of Antalya issued a directive banning the consumption of alcohol outside of buildings.[45]

Sex tourismEdit

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Turkey. The secularization of Turkish society allowed prostitution to achieve legal status during the early 20th century. Sex tourism has been part of Turkey's tourism industry and has been growing over the decades both for foreigners and locals. Many foreigners come to Turkey to work for local Turks in the prostitution business, while many Turks travel abroad as consumers of sex tourism, mostly to Eastern Europe for the purpose.[46] Anyone who encourages someone to commit prostitution, facilitates it, or mediates or provides a place for prostitution is punished with imprisonment from two to four years and a judicial fine of up to three thousand days.[47][48]

Covid-19 PandemicEdit

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of tourists arriving in Turkey declined to around 16 million in 2020.[49] This was the lowest number of tourists in the last decade.[49] The revenue from international travel was reduced to $13.7 billion which only made up 1.91% of the total economy in 2020.[50][51] In 2021, Turkey's tourism recovered from the pandemic as it contributed $59.3 billion to the GDP, which made up 7.3% of the total economy.[52]


See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ a b "42 million tourists visit Turkey in 2014". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Turkey's tourism industry reels from a year to forget". The Guardian. 5 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Turkish–German ties at historic low, says scholar Faruk Şen". Hürriyet Daily News. 21 November 2016. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "32.4 mln foreigners visit Turkey in 2017: Tourism Ministry". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Tourism in Turkey starts recovery". ITIJ. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  8. ^ Maierbrugger, Arno (25 January 2013). "Turkey plans world's biggest airport". Inside Investor. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul plunges for first time in 16 years". Hürriyet Daily News. 6 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Turkey: Provinces and Major Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information". Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Putin bir kararı daha imzaladı. Tartışmalı bölge Rus mülkiyetine geçirildi". Yeni Çağ Gazetesi (in Turkish). 5 October 2022. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
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  15. ^ "Historical and Cultural Places". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  16. ^ "Blue Flag Turkey | TURCEV | Foundation for Environmental Education in Turkey". Retrieved 11 October 2022.
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  18. ^ "Turkey rich in "blue flags" – TRAVEL". Hürriyet Daily News. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Capadocia" (PDF).
  20. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Türkiye - UNESCO World Heritage Convention". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  21. ^ a b Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Göbekli Tepe". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  22. ^ Clare, Lee (12 October 2020). "Göbekli Tepe, Turkey. A brief summary of research at a new World Heritage Site (2015–2019)". E-Forschungsberichte (in German): § 1–13–§ 1–13. doi:10.34780/efb.v0i2.1012. ISSN 2198-7734.
  23. ^ a b Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Archaeological Site of Troy". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  24. ^ "Turkey's thriving business in hair, beard, and Mustache Implants". doi:10.3834/uij.1944-5784.2010.04.06f1. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  25. ^ Pirzada, Nefes (15 June 2022). "The Expansion of Turkey's Medical Tourism Industry". Voices in Bioethics. 8. doi:10.52214/vib.v8i.9894. ISSN 2691-4875. S2CID 249840691.
  26. ^ "400,000 Europeans visit Turkey for health tourism - Latest News". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  27. ^ KARAÇADIR, Vahap; SEZGİN, Aykut (20 September 2022). "KAMU İNTERNET VE MOBİL SAĞLIK UYGULAMALARI KULLANIM NİYETİ DEĞİŞKENLERİNİN DEĞERLENDİRİLMESİ". Türkiye Mesleki ve Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi. doi:10.46236/jovosst.1176463. ISSN 2687-3478. S2CID 252422361.
  28. ^ "Health Tourism in Turkey: Opportunities and Threats | Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences". 7 August 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  29. ^ Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Turkey. "Number of Arriving-Departing Foreigners and Citizens, December 2016". Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Tourism Receipts-Expenditures (2003-2019)".
  32. ^ "2019". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  33. ^ "2012 Tourism Highlights" (PDF). UNWTO. June 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  34. ^ Kafanov, Lucy (19 August 2015). "Violence costing Turkey precious tourism, even far from the fighting". The Christian Science Monitor.
  35. ^ "4.9 pct less tourists in Turkey in June". DailySabah. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  36. ^ "It is now time for Turkey's tourism sector to raise revenue". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  37. ^ "Erdoğan calls on citizens abroad: 'Come to Turkey for vacation'". Hürriyet Daily News. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  38. ^ "Turkey's Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2009". The Wall Street Journal. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  39. ^ "German travelers booking in Spain, Greece instead of Turkey: Association". Hürriyet Daily News. 21 April 2017.
  40. ^ "Turkey hopes for German comeback". FVW. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  41. ^ "Turkey sees rise in halal tourism". BBC. 25 August 2014.
  42. ^ "How Turkey plans to boost halal tourism". Al Monitor. 9 May 2016. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  43. ^ "Turkey has banned but the website isn't backing down". The Independent. 30 March 2017.
  44. ^ "Turkish hotelier association asks court to lift ban on". Hürriyet Daily News. 6 April 2017.
  45. ^ "Statement on alcohol ban in outdoor locations in Turkey's Antalya sparks debate". Hürriyet Daily News. 28 April 2017.
  46. ^ "Tourism's dark side: Child sexual abuse in Turkey".
  47. ^ "Mevzuat Bilgi Sistemi".
  48. ^ "Fuhuşa Teşvik Ve Aracılık Etme Suçu".
  49. ^ a b "Turkey Tourist arrivals - data, chart". Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  50. ^ "Turkey International tourism revenue - data, chart". Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  51. ^ "Turkey International tourism revenue, percent of GDP - data, chart". Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  52. ^ "Travel & Tourism Economic Impact | World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)". Retrieved 3 October 2022.

Requirements for Urgent Visa for Turkey

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit