During the Presidents' Session, moderated by Osman Ayık, Tourism Consultant for Antalya Metropolitan Municipality, at the EMITT Tourism Fair, participants included Erkan Yağcı, President of the Federation of Turkish Hoteliers (TÜROFED), Müberra Eresin, President of the Turkish Hoteliers Association (TÜROB), and Naile Göçen Çukurova, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Tourism Investors Association of Türkiye (TTYD).

“2023 was a challenging year but ended well”

Evaluating the year 2023, TÜROFED President Erkan Yağcı said, “2023 started well but the earthquake disaster affected us greatly. The impact of the earthquake continued until June. I always summarize 2023 like this: It was a challenging year but ended well. Türkiye became a positively distinguished country worldwide. While global tourism reached 95% of 2019 levels, Türkiye exceeded those levels. It was a good year in terms of both the number of tourists and tourism revenue.”

“2024 will be a test year”

Yağcı mentioned that 2024 will be a test year for Turkish tourism, saying, “In terms of civil society, we are a strong driving force. This is one of the most important features of the tourism sector. 2024 will be a test year for us after 2019. Because there has been a price increase in Türkiye. This year will be a test to see if these price increases will be accepted worldwide. It is extremely important for us to think more about tourism revenues than the number of tourists this year. It will be very important to maintain our current level and to be prepared for the future. The problems in our region are endless. While the Russia-Ukraine war has become the new normal of life, we experienced the Israel-Palestine war. Our city destinations, as well as our resort areas, were affected by this. As long as we do not lose our faith in tourism, I believe this growth will continue. In 2024, there will be an increase in tourism movement worldwide. To continue at the peak of the bell curve, we must avoid actions that would financially set us back,” he stated.

“Hotel prices are increasing not only in Türkiye but around the world”

Erkan Yağcı, arguing that Türkiye should move beyond its ‘cheap country’ image to offer its products at their deserved value, stated, “Hotel prices are increasing not only in Türkiye but around the world. Despite all this, Turkiye is a leader in terms of product, price, and quality balance. Türkiye has not lost its advantage in this aspect. Geopolitical issues can cause problems at times. Türkiye was known as a cheap destination, but now our goal is to overcome this. Türkiye should be a destination that sells at the price it deserves worldwide. Türkiye is one of the best-performing destinations. The important thing is not to be the most expensive destination but to segment well internally and offer products that can host guests of different profiles. Our hotels should sell at the price they deserve; we need to achieve this. A 3-star hotel should not be priced as a 5-star, but at a 3-star price, and a 5-star hotel should sell at a 5-star price,” he expressed.

“Reforms since 2019”

Yağcı sees the changes made since 2019 as reform, highlighting the following points: “Structural changes have been made in terms of reform since 2019. I consider the post-2019 period as a time of reform in tourism. Tourism facilities were taken from a single authority, TGA was established, and collaborations with organizations like GSTC were made. Therefore, I am hopeful about the future. We can create a common sense of solving problems, knowing what is right and what is wrong. Everyone is working hard. I believe this period of reform will be even longer.

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“Artificial intelligence will open up the future of the sector”

But when we think about the future of tourism, three elements used to come up. First is market diversity, second is product diversity, and third is promotional perception efforts. In this new era, a new element has emerged; digital transformation and artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is sweeping the world. Every sector is discussing how to use artificial intelligence. We need to think about artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence will be important not only for sales and marketing but also for understanding guests and managing our pricing policy. I know there are such studies at TGA. Such applications will open up the future of the sector. 2024 will be an important year to maintain our structure and for digital transformation.”

Panel

Editor: Haber Merkezi