General Manager of Diamond Star Experience, Akın Koç, wrote an article regarding the statement of the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, on the need to attract "qualified tourists." Koç noted that Türkiye has fallen short in attracting qualified tourists and claimed that the Tourism Ministry neglects tour operators who bring tourists from the low but high-spending group.

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Here is the article Akın Koç wrote about 'qualified tourists'...

"I felt the need to write this article because the statement of Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy about the necessity of 'qualified tourists' caught my attention. Frankly, I was surprised when I read this. The practice does not match what is being said. For years, Türkiye has neglected qualified tourists significantly. It has constantly played with the number of people without considering the quality and qualifications of tourists, and has been successful in doing so. Moreover, it has boasted about it every year. However, it has failed in bringing in qualified tourists and increasing the number of tourists in that category. I would like to explain how this happened with a couple of simple examples.

I can provide an example from our own experience. As Diamond Star Experience, we are a UK-based tour operator specializing in personalized products, multi-center tours, and Gulet Cruise (cruise on a traditional Turkish wooden yacht). The regions we mainly focus on are Cappadocia, hot air balloon tours, Istanbul, special trips to Eastern Anatolia, and tours such as blue voyages. Ninety-nine percent of the customers we send are qualified tourists. However, tour operators like us do not send a large number of tourists, and they cannot. In other words, we cater to a niche market, which constitutes 10 to 15 percent of the market. But the average amount of money paid for niche tourism is three times higher than that paid for mass tourism. Additionally, we take tourists to the most needed regions of Türkiye. It turns out that tour operators like us are not even considered by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism because we are small. While TUI, Jet2, and other large operators working on mass tourism contribute millions of pounds in advertising, hold meetings with them, and support them, they do not contribute or even inquire about us because our numbers are small. However, small tour operators like us, who send qualified tourists, are the ones who sell quality products. There are dozens of tour operators like us.

If the Minister is sincere about this, in my opinion, he should do two simple things. Firstly, he should recognize tour operators who bring in qualified tourists like us and provide them with financial and moral support. Another important issue is, of course, the promotional visuals made nationwide. Does anyone not know the beach anymore that beach ads are constantly being made? Of course, I am not against mass tourism. Türkiye has already immersed itself in mass tourism up to its neck; it needs it. But at least a little emphasis should be given to places that qualified tourists would visit, places that smell of culture and history, such as Cappadocia, Istanbul, Göbeklitepe, Mount Nemrut, Ani Ruins, Van, and blue voyages. We now have very luxurious Gulet yachts. Let's support them a bit, and let's use their visual appeal a bit. It's a pity; Türkiye could have been a second Italy, with our unique products, history, and culture in our hands.

Even the Greek government, which we do not like, values us more than necessary. They invite us to their country, host us in 5-star hotels every year, make all transfers VIP, and pay for our flights just to send more qualified tourists to Greece. They never ask about our numbers; just selling Greece is enough for them.

I hope we implement this policy that has been delayed for too long and succeed not only in the success of the all-inclusive system but also in bringing in qualified tourists. Instead of boasting about the increase in numbers, let's be proud of the increase in income per person as Türkiye."

Editor: Savaş Daş