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Record number of tourists visit İstanbul

Almost a million people chose Turkey's financial and cultural capital İstanbul as their tourist destination this quarter, a record number in the past 10 years. The İstanbul Cultural and Tourism Directorate said on Tuesday that at least 838,201 tourists visited İstanbul in the first three months of this year, a 23.8 percent increase compared to the same period last year. The directorate hailed the progress made by İstanbul in the tourism sector at a time when an economic recession was ongoing in Europe.

The data also showed that two out of every three tourists who came to Turkey between Oct. 2012 and March 2013 visited İstanbul.

On the list of countries with the highest number of visitors to İstanbul in the first quarter, 10 percent came from Germany, followed by Russia with 6 percent and the UK with 4 percent. The US came in fourth with 4 percent and France fifth with 4 percent. The number of visitors to İstanbul hit 9.5 million in 2012, with authorities expecting this figure exceed 10 million this year.

Tourists are expected to spend at least $11 billion this year. This figure, however, is roughly half the spending seen in international shopping capitals London and New York, which topped the list at $21.1 and $19.4 billion respectively.

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