Q1 tourism revenues up 3.4 pct to $4.81 bln

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Turkey’s tourism revenues rose 3.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, to $4.81 billion, government data showed on Tuesday.

According to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), 5.06 million people visited Turkey between January and March of this year, a 6.1 percent increase over the same quarter in 2013. Nearly 1 million visitors to Turkey in first quarter this year were Turks living abroad, TurkStat added. The tourism sector earned 76.2 percent of revenues from foreign visitors in the first quarter. Turkey’s tourism spending increased 13.3 percent in the first three months when compared to a year ago and reached $1.36 billion.

With regard to tourists’ preferences, the majority organized their own tours or chose group packages for their vacations in Turkey in the first quarter. A total of $4.26 billion of tourists’ money was spent by individuals, while $546 million was spent on group packages, TurkStat said. The average spending of foreign tourists was $877 in the first three months of this year, while Turks living abroad spent $1,230 on average, revealing that most foreign visitors preferred the relatively cheaper package tours.

Tourism revenues are a valuable source of foreign currency for Turkey, which has a large current account deficit (CAD). Tourism revenues in 2013 rose 11.4 percent to $32.3 billion. In the meantime, the number of Turkish citizens traveling abroad in the first quarter increased by 4.1 percent over last year, reaching 1.73 billion. The average spending per person in this group was $790.

Tourism revenue is highly important for Turkey since its economy has produced a wide CAD because of heavy dependence on foreign energy and intermediate goods and swift growth, particularly in the past decade.

A total of 34.9 million tourists visited Turkey in 2013, a 9.84 rise over 2012. Turkey expects that incoming tourism figures may well reach beyond 40 or even 50 million over the next few years, but the question is whether such a high number will be sustainable from both an environmental and a business administration perspective. CIHAN