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The Future of Tourism and Turkey

Muzaffer S. Uysal
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Today, tourism, with its complex social, economic and physical impact, has become an international phenomenon, and is one of the largest and most rapidly growing industries in the international market. Now, tourism is a very competitive business. It is no longer a supply driven sector but a demand driven market.
It is now commonly accepted that Turkey has one of the most progressing tourism industries in the world.  Turkey has been successful in providing incentives to native and foreign investors for further tourism development. The transformation to a liberalized economy and its strong commitment to that policy suggest that Turkey has been adjusting well to the globalization of the world market with well developed destinations and highly qualified personnel to provide tourism services. Today, the number of international arrivals is around 15 million visitors a year.
Muzaffer S. Uysal.

The key to the continued attraction of visitors to Turkey in significant numbers is a careful coordination of marketing and planning of its rich and diverse tourism resources.  Over the past two decades, tourism has become a very important industry for the economies of a large number of both coastal and inland Turkish towns and cities.  Tourism revenues, the number of tourists, the number of accommodation establishments and the number of travel agencies dramatically increased between 1983 and 2005.

While the European and Russian markets continue to generate a considerable number of tourists, other markets such as the USA and Canada, have not been fully tapped. These markets consist of tourists willing to spend large amounts of money on lodging, restaurant meals, recreation and shopping. How could Turkey do better at attracting visitors from North America?

In one of our studies we generated data that consisted of in-depth phone interviews and e-mail exchanges with around 15 tour operators from a list of around 70 tour operators organizing tours to Turkey. The nature and content of these interviews included questions regarding problems, obstacles or barriers to travel to Turkey, and suggestions on how to improve the flow of visitors from North America to Turkey. In addition, we also selected seven more tour operators that do not run tours to Turkey in order to find out reasons, perceptions or attitudes as to why they don’t have tours for Turkey, and if they would consider organizing tours to Turkey in the future.  Our findings are enlightening and worth sharing. Given the tourism product of Turkey, it is not surprising that the tour operators we interviewed all included that. The unique selling propositions of Turkey consist of three elements (1) history / culture, (2) scenic beauty, (3) friendly people.

The tour operators that have business with Turkey have a good feel for the country and its tourism offerings. However, the ones that do not run tours to Turkey said that they don’t have expertise. The image “problem” that Turkey faces is not that there is a negative image, but rather that there is, at best, a blurred image and at worst, no image. Part of our marketing strategy should be to provide support to tour operators and wholesalers by making travel agents and travel customers more aware of what Turkey has to offer. It would be very expensive to saturate a market the size of North America with persuasive consumer adverting. Within the targeted North American market areas high income tourists (incomes of $75,000 and more) with college education interested in luxury and mid – priced tours should be focused on.  The emphasis of the marketing plan should be on a push strategy. This means that marketing efforts should be aimed at the tour operators.


Advertizing should be limited primarily to print media and a carefully organized on-line presence with the goal of building awareness of Turkey as a destination, rather than hard persuasion.  The advertizing theme to be developed should treat Turkey as a new product for which basic understanding is to be emphasized.

The strategy aimed at encouraging tour operators may include participating in travel shows in market areas, familiarization trips for potentially high volume tour operators and travel agents, preparation of CDs and video tapes, and making them available in hard and electronic copies, high quality brochures, postcards, pamphlets and posters for distribution to tour operators and travel agents, and direct e-mail to tour operators and travel agents to provide travel updates.

This, in turn, will make it easier for travel agents to sell Turkey and for tour operators to sell to travel agents.  It is important to note that most of the tour operators believe that spring and fall, especially May, June, September and October are the best times to visit Turkey. While many run tours in July and August, these months do not appear to be popular because the rates are higher during this high season. Although several tour operators offer a winter tour, these tours are rarely filled.

Winter tours need more entertainment as an integral component in order to make them more attractive. Tours to Turkey range from 3 to 21 days; most tours are 14-17 days long, though several last for 21 days. However, an examination of different tours to the Mediterranean region indicates that most tours are around 12 to 15 days, excluding cruises that range from two to three weeks. So, a typical tour to Turkey should be between 12 and 15 days with added mini tours at the destination(s) in Turkey.

The potential of the North American visitor markets for Turkey is enormous but exploiting this market successfully would require concerted efforts on the part of both public and private entities.  
Naturally, it is not surprising that a further expected increase in the number of visitors from a host of existing and new markets to Turkey would place greater demands on such facilities as roads and airports, and on accommodations in terms of types of amenities, harbors, water supply, sewage disposal, and the supply of electricity and communication facilities. But Turkey is now well positioned to handle this and has the skills and experience necessary to deal with a large influx of visitors from overseas destinations.

Dr. Uysal, born in Corum-Turkey, is a professor of tourism in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Dr. Uysal received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from the University of New Haven and a BS from Ankara Academy of Economics & Commercial Sciences.

Dr. Uysal is a member of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism, the Academy of Leisure Sciences, and serves as co-editor of Tourism Analysis: An Interdisciplinary journal. In addition, he sits on the editorial boards of eight journals, including Journal of Travel Research, and Annals of Tourism Research as resource editor. His current research interests center on tourism demand/supply interaction, tourism development and marketing, and international tourism. (July 2005, Issue 17th)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07