It also now ranks 6th in terms of number of foreign arrivals, having moved up one place, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).
Istanbul attracted 2.92 million foreign visitors in the first four months of 2013, marking a 21 per cent rise from 2.42 million in the same period last year. Indeed, Istanbul was voted as the Best European Destination for 2013 in online voting by several thousand people.
Also continuing to go from strength to strength as one of the most popular and affordable holiday destinations for the UK, Turkey attracted 2.46 million British visitors in 2012, with Thomas Cook predicting that Turkey will be the most popular short-haul package holiday destination for summer 2013 and TravelSupermarket's poll of 5000 travellers showing that Turkey is again expected to be one of the UK's favourite destinations for 2013.
Sustainable Turkey – As Turkey's infrastructure continues to expand to keep pace with its tourism industry, the country is more conscious than ever of protecting its unique and precious environment. Several new eco-tourism zones have been selected as top priority for preservation of Turkey's natural landscape and habitats, including areas of the Black Sea Region, the inland area around between Antalya and Mersin, and the GAP region – as well as the Datca Peninsula and Lake District in Central Anatolia. Other projects include encouraging sustainable farming (see Taste of Fethiye in the Ecotousim section), organic farms that offer family-friendly holidays and niche holidays off the beaten track where travellers can enjoy a traditional lifestyle.
Golfing Turkey – The sophisticated resort of Belek in Antalya is Turkey's most important golfing destination with 15 superb courses, including those designed by Sir Nick Faldo and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. Famous golfers to have spent time include Tiger Woods, Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood. The majority of hotels in Belek are five-star (52 in all) and inclusive, and are competitively priced. The Belek district was recently named 'Best Golf Destination' at the Golf Journal Travel Awards and by Golf Magazine, and is preparing to host the Turkish Open in autumn 2013 (see Sporting News & Events). There are also two international standard courses in Istanbul and one in Bodrum.
Spot to watch, Alacati – This pretty Aegean coastal town, 72 km west of Izmir, backed by hillsides of vineyards and olive trees still has its traditional air with cobbled streets and original stone cottages many of which have been converted into homely pensions and boutique hotels offering contemporary styling and locally produced organic food. Popular as a windsurfing and kite-surfing resort due to its brisk winds, it has a loyal Turkish following who come for the water sports, windsurfing schools and annual sports contests. Easily accessible from Izmir Airport, nearby is the 2km-long Ilica beach and its thermal springs while such sites as Ephesus and Pamukkale are a day-trip away.
Tourism Infrastructure & Airline News
Turkey's Zafer airport opened in December, 18 months early. The new airport will serve the Kutahya, Usak and Afyonkarahisar regions of western Anatolia. Currently Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines run scheduled flights to and from it. Turkey seeks to build a six-runway airport, setting out plans to build one of the world's biggest airports, at a cost of more than $5bn, as it steps up its efforts to make Istanbul a global hub.
Turkey plans to build 12 new marinas to increase the country's docking capacity for yachts and motor boats to at least 20,000 by 2015.
VIALAND, a new project for the Eyup district of Istanbul, will include a theme park, exhibition centre and shopping streets and expects to attract 3 million tourists annually. It is due to open in April 2023.
Hotels & resorts
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ first Turkish property, Shangri-La Bosphorus, has opened on the European side of Istanbul, bringing the hotel’s signature spa brand, CHI, to the city. Inspired by the mysticism of the Shangri-La legend, the spa will feature seven treatment rooms for the best in Chinese healing therapies, as well as two Turkish hamams.
French hotel brand Mama Shelter, voted among Europe's trendiest properties, expands to Istanbul's Taksim district. The highly-acclaimed Philippe Stark designed hotel is located at the top of Demirören mall and has 81 rooms located at the 5th and 6th floor designed with the same style as in Paris.
#bunk design hostels have opened their first ultra-chic yet budget hostel in Istanbul's Beyoglu district. Private rooms as well as stylish dorms are available and there is a rooftop heated #bunkbath.
DoubleTree by Hilton has announced the opening of its fifth hotel in Turkey, in the Avcilar district of Istanbul.
The 5-star luxury Grand Tarabya overlooking the Bosphorus has re-opened after renovations in February. One of Istanbul's oldest luxury hotels, it has 168 deluxe guest rooms, 79 suites, 1 presidential suite and 30 exclusive full service apartments as well as 14 exclusive meeting rooms and a state-of-the art business centre.
Five-star Wyndham Istanbul Kalamis Marina Hotel has opened on the Asian coast of the city. Adjacent to the exclusive Kalamis Marina, there is an indoor or outdoor heated pool, Blue Harmony Spa, 14 multi-functional meeting rooms and four restaurants and cafes at this 210-room hotel.
Club Med has opened a new resort in Belek, close to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. It offers a range of facilities and activities for families as well as being close to an 18-hole golf course and 2.5km sandy beach. A new Raffles hotel, with one of the largest spas in the city, will open in summer 2013 in the award-winning Zorlu Centre in Istanbul. The hotel will have 180 rooms and suites, a ballroom with a 1200-person capacity, two restaurants and bars, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a heliport. It is will also be home to a signature Raffles Spa, set to be one of the largest spas in Istanbul at approximately 3000 square metres.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts are set to open three new hotels in Turkey in the coming years, the Sheraton Adana Hotel, the Sheraton Bursa Hotel and the Aloft Bursa. Thomson is opening its fifth Sensatori hotel in Sorgun, near Side in Antalya province, for summer 2013. With a great beachfront setting, there are five pools, five restaurants and a wide range of sports and wellbeing options at this flagship five-star venue of Thomson. A perennial hallmark of international exclusivity, Soho House has recognized the importance of giving its members a home among the hubs of creativity around the world. It has chosen Istanbul to be the location of its biggest property ever, opening in 2014.
The luxury Mandarin Oriental group is set to arrive in Turkey with the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, opening in 2014 on a beachfront location. Located on a 60-hectare site with panoramic views over the Aegean Sea, there will be 82 exclusive guestrooms and 20 suites providing the largest accommodation in the area, many with private gardens and infinity edged pools. Plans are also in place for a 130-room Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus for 2016 to be located on the waterfront in Istanbul's Besiktas district.
The Rhossos Rotana Resort and Serviced Apartments, a 300-room city resort located in Iskenderun the commercial centre of the Hatay region in Turkey's southeast, will open in 2014. A first for Rotana in Turkey, the resort will feature a 200m private beachfront, Turkish spa & health club, business centre, large wedding and banqueting facilities, pool and a variety of food & beverage outlets. Thomson has announced the expansion of its summer 2013 programme from Leeds-Bradford Airport which will include Dalaman as a new route and holiday destination in Turkey. Holidaymakers there will also be able to take advantage of the Thomson Cruise programme. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will open a new resort in Cesme, Izmir, in 2016. Four Seasons Resort Cesme, with 130 resort suites and 16 private hilltop villas offering extraordinary sea views, will be the company’s third property in Turkey and set in an area renowned for its vineyards and therapeutic thermal springs.
Turkish Airlines Turkish Airlines has added flights from London Gatwick to Sabiha Gökçen Airport which will operate three times a week to move up to a daily service from 1 June. The route will open up more connections into eastern Turkey and is in addition to its daily Gatwick-Ataturk service
Turkey has a brand-new seaplane service, Seabird Airlines, bringing sea-land integrated airline travel to Turkey for the first time. Seabird Airlines flies to Turkey's most popular resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean using 19-person capacity aircraft, with private charter also available.
Pegasus Airlines has added new routes include Amasya close to the Black Sea coast, Denizli, Gazipasha (Alanya), Zafer (Kutahya) in the west of the country and Erzincan, Kahramanmaras, Mus and Sanliurfa in the east.
Jet2 Holidays has launched holidays to Bodrum direct from Glasgow airport and will be increasing the capacity on flights to Dalaman.
Newquay Airport is now offering charter flights to Turkey. Offered in conjunction with Oska-Travel, passengers will be able to fly direct to the Turkish Riviera for escorted tours.
According to the International Congress and Convention Association's report for 2011, Istanbul ranks 8th in Europe and 9th in the world for the number of meetings held in the city (113 for 2011). The city also ranked 1st in the world for conventions of more than 500 delegates.
The new 43,000m2 Ephesus Convention Centre has recently opened in Kusadasi. Built close to the famous ruins, the centre’s two auditoriums have been inspired by Anatolia’s ancient amphitheatres and there is also a 2780m2 exhibition hall as well as 35 meeting rooms. There are more than 1000 guest rooms within walking distance, and plans to build new hotels in the region are under way.
The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) World Congress will be held in Antalya in 2014.
The 6th World Forum on Energy Regulation (WFER VI) conference will be held in Istanbul in 2015.
Expo 2016 Antalya. A huge expo of agriculture and horticulture will held in Antalya over six months in 2016 with 100 countries exhibiting and eight million people expected to attend. Themes include plant production, organic agriculture, insect & animal breeding, cut flowers and bio-energy.
EXPO 2020 Izmir. The Aegean city of Izmir is bidding to host the 2020 World EXPO, which will last six months and is expected to attract 16 million visitors. It would be the first EXPO to be organised in the eastern Mediterranean region, its theme being 'New routes to a better world / Health for all' and cover physical and mental wellbeing as well as the healthy environment.
UNESCO and Turkey are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Piri Reis World Map in 2013. As a rare world map from the 16th century, the Piri Reis World Map (1513), produced by Ottoman admiral and cartographer of the same name, is an invaluable piece of the world’s documentary heritage. The Turkish Embassy is organising a conference on the Piri Reis World Map of 1513 in collaboration with the University of Greenwich and Piri Reis University, with the support of the Turkish Prime Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The conference will take place at the University of Greenwich on Friday, 14 June 2013. Speakers include Prof. Gregory McIntosh, the author of Piri Reis World Map (1513) and Metin Atac, the Former Commander in Chief of The Turkish Navy.
The Women's Museum Istanbul, Turkey's first women's museum and for now online only, which is devoted to the role played by women in the city has been launched. A building for the physical museum is currently being sought.
A 10,000 square-metre cave area in Gaziantep will be transformed into a museum of history to open by March 2014. There will be images of early and late history in the caves, with trains being used to show people around, as well as a small lake in the middle of the exhibition area.
The ancient world's 'greatest church' will open as an archaeopark in the Marmara region. The Mother Mary church, dating from the early Byzantine era (circa 500AD) and located in the modern-day village of Zeytinliada near Erdek, will open to tourists as a new archeopark soon. The Central Anatolian province of Corum will be home to Turkey’s first door museum. The museum will be in the Iskilip district, which is famous for its wooden houses, centuries old fountains and historic structures man of which have recently been restored.
Modern Indo-European languages – which include English – originated in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) about 9000 years ago, researchers say.
A giant 1600-square-foot ancient poolside mosaic in pristine condition dating back to the Roman Empire at its peak has been unearthed in southern Turkey. Once decorating the floor of an outdoor bath complex, it is the largest Roman mosaic ever found in southern Turkey which was thought to be rather peripheral to the Roman Empire.
The contents of the 41st Istanbul Music Festival (4-29 June), with the theme 'time and transformation', have been announced. The festival will feature approx. 500 Turkish and international artists, including the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Munich Chamber Orchestra.
The 20th Istanbul Jazz Festival (2-18 July) will this year feature over 400 local and international artists in more than 40 concerts around the city. Artists performing include Alicia Keys performing for the first time in Turkey.
The 13th Istanbul Biennial is set for the autumn of 2013, under the curatorship of Fulya Erdemci, currently Director of SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam.
29 October 2013 (Republic Day) will be the 90th anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic by Ataturk. Activities which have been announced include the opening of the Marmaray tunnel under the Bosphorus linking the European and Asian continents and the reopening of the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Taksim after renovation.
Sporting News & Events
Istanbul is currently in the shortlist, along with Tokyo and Madrid, for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the winner will be announced in September 2013.
There are a number of marathons happening across Turkey throughout the year, including the RunFire Cappadocia and Lycian Way Ultra Marathons and the Anatolian Mountain marathon. See the following link for a full list:
The 1300-km long 49th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey will be held during April and May.
The 2013 Alanya ETU Triathlon European Championships will be held during June.
The 2013 Mersin XVIIth Mediterranean Games will be held on 20-30 June in Mersin on the eastern Mediterraean coast.
Istanbul's Bosphorus Cross-continental swimming race will be held during July.
The Turkish Airlines World Golf Final will become the Turkish Open as from next year, expanding from an eight-man exhibition event to an elite 78-man tournament on the European Tour. The penultimate event of the season, it will run 7-10 November and be played on the Colin Montgomerie-designed course at the Maxx Royal resort in Belek, Antalya.
The Taste of Fethiye project, which creates links between hotels and local farmers, has completed its first full season of production. More than 570 tonnes of sustainably produced fresh fruit and veg were produced by 22 farmers across five villages with the produce sold to nine hotels in Fethiye, seven of which are used by project partners TUI and Thomas Cook.
Turkey in the UK
An exhibit from Istanbul's Museum of Innocence is at the London Design Museum until 7 July. Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence, based on the novel of the same name and which recently opened in Istanbul, has been nominated for the London Design Museum's'Designs of the Year 2013' awards. A replica of exhibition box no.14 'Istanbul's streets, bridges, hills, squares' from Istanbul's Museum of Innocence is on display at the London Design Museum.
Contemporary Istanbul was the exclusive focus of the first-ever INN London held over four days in April in the heart of London. A showcase of the city's contemporary culture and commerce, it brought Istanbul’s leading contemporary architects, artists, designers, fashion designers, galleries & shops to London, and included a programme of cultural talks and events, information on travelling in Turkey as well as the chance to purchase Turkish products.
Turkey was the Market Focus country for the 2013 London Book Fair in April, reflecting the country’s dramatic rise in the international publishing community over the last decade with a publishing industry worth $2.4 billion in 2011. The Market Focus programme was supported by an exciting series of cultural events including Turkish authors appearing in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool and London