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The Rise of Tourism in Turkey

A richly appointed lobby in the Mardan Palace luxury hotel in Turkey.
The lobby of the opulent Mardan Palace. Photo © Viacheslav Khmelnitskiy/123rf.

Tourism in Turkey has grown rapidly since the late 1990s. Anatolia’s historical sites, spanning at least five millennia and some 22 cultures, make Turkey the country with the most archaeological sites worldwide.

Turkey’s sun-kissed coasts and exotic seaside resorts compete with other Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece for European travelers.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Turkey was the sixth most visited country in the world in 2011. With over 31 million arrivals, Turkey surpassed the United Kingdom in popularity.

In 2013 tourism revenue was up 40 percent over 2012, reaching a value of US$4.9 billion. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is now aiming for 50 million visitors annually by 2023 to make Turkey the fifth most visited country.

Developers have been quick to heed the growing interest from abroad. Luxurious and all-inclusive resorts in Turkey’s top two tourism provinces, Antalya and Muğla, have increasing options. Antalya, for instance, boasts more than 170 luxury resorts. Revenues at the US$1.4 billion Mardan Palace, opened in 2009, have proved that an over-the-top Las Vegas-style resort in the Mediterranean region can fill a niche.

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Istanbul & the Turkish Coast.