Despite the challenges faced in 2023, Oya Narin stated that the year concluded successfully, with optimistic projections for 2024. “We can say we achieved our goals for 2023. We earned $54 billion and hosted 56.7 million tourists. We’ve closed 2023 as a successful year and foresee 2024 being equally prosperous. The Ministry has set targets for revenue and tourist numbers, and we are aligned with these goals. Even though we’ve seen a decline in the Russian and Ukrainian markets, the figures have exceeded our expectations. The European market looks promising, and early bookings are trending positively. Domestic tourism is also performing strongly. We’re anticipating a good year ahead,” Narin explained.

Narin expressed satisfaction with the decision to extend the Ramadan holiday to 9 days, stating, “The holiday extension is a sweet deal for us.”

Highlighting the importance of Istanbul and Antalya to Turkish tourism, Narin remarked, “In the coming years, we expect to see 30 million tourists in Istanbul and 20 million in Antalya. These are not distant targets.”

Narin emphasized the value of Türkiye’s recent successes in tourism. “We must continue our achievements. We are in the premier league of tourism, with much more to accomplish. It’s crucial to sustain growth, increase accommodation capacity, facilitate investments, and devise new plans. Particularly, we need to closely monitor the investments being made in the Arabian Peninsula and formulate our plans for 2030 and beyond.”

Underlining the need for investment in Türkiye’s tourism sector, Narin stated, “Our goal is to increase our revenue to $130 billion by 2033. The plans we’ve made at TTYD align with the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) figures, and our Ministry has set significant targets. To achieve these numbers, we need new plans that will pave the way for new investments. We need to increase tourism activity across various regions in Anatolia, not just along the coast. There are resources available both globally and in Türkiye to accomplish this, with the right models and support.”

Regarding the increasing investments in tourism in the Arabian Peninsula and their potential competition with Türkiye, Narin offered the following analysis: “Our country offers year-round tourism with all four seasons, and our human resources are well-suited to hospitality, known globally for its hospitality. While destinations like Saudi Arabia and Dubai have significant resources, they lack a tourism ecosystem and face human resource challenges, making them unable to fully compete with Türkiye. They could be an alternative, but not a substitute.”

Narin also highlighted the need for support, comparing the situation to other exporting sectors: “Like our exporting peers, we seek similar support, on top of the Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) contributions, accommodation tax, and additional VAT. We rightfully demand support. Though not classified strictly as exporters, our activities generate foreign exchange, and half of the $100 billion in service exports come from our sector. We have expectations in this regard.”

Lastly, Narin addressed the challenges in the tourism sector’s human resources: “We’ve lost the interest of our human resources in the sector, failing to provide a stable work environment. Understandably, they are distancing themselves from the industry, even those who graduate in the field. We need to address this issue and also solve the accommodation problem for our workforce.”