People, Travel

Iranian Tourists to Surpass Germans in Istanbul

Iranian tourists ranked second since 2014 among nationalities visiting Istanbul.
Iranian tourists ranked second since 2014 among nationalities visiting Istanbul.

The number of Iranian tourists to Istanbul has seen an uptrend in recent years and could soon surpass the number of German visitors, partially as a result of economic recovery experienced after a nuclear deal lifting sanctions on Iran.

Ercan Cecen, a board member of the Middle East Tourism and Travel Agents Association (OTSAD) and Iranian market representative, pointed out that Iranians placed second after Germans in the distribution of tourists visiting Istanbul, adding that “Iranian tourists could soon surpass the Germans”.

Iranian tourists have been filling Turkish shopping centers and concept stores, prompting many shops to hire employees who speak Farsi and install Farsi sale signs, Daily Sabah reported.

Iranian tourists are exempted from visa requirements for travels of up to 90 days in Turkey, encouraging many visitors to vacation in Istanbul.

According to an Anadolu Agency compilation of data from the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, 386,339 Iranians visited Istanbul in 2013, while the number grew in the following years to 590, 920 in 2014 and 755,707 in 2015.

There was a slight drop in 2016, with 648,176 Iranian visitors, however 337,259 Iranian tourists visited Istanbul in the first six months of 2017.

Turkey’s struggle with terrorism has tarnished its image and resulted in Iranian tour operators promoting Georgia as an alternative to the terror-hit country.

By comparison, 403, 235 German tourists came to Istanbul in the first six months of 2017.

The number of Iranian tourists ranked seventh in 2013 among nationalities visiting Istanbul, but has leaped to second place, following German visitors, every year since 2014.

The OTSAD member said, “Iranian tourists will soon outnumber the Germans, because they have a population of 80 million,” adding that the number of charter flights from Iran to Istanbul had also increased.

“Unlike other visitors, Iranian tourists come 12 months of the year, mostly frequenting the entertainment and shopping centers of Merter, Bayrampasa and Osmanbey neighborhoods,” Cecen said.

Cecen highlighted that the average duration of Iranian tourists’ time in Istanbul tended to be 4-7 days.

Adding that Iranian visitors were beneficial to the Turkish economy, Cecen said, “Iranian tourists spend at least $1,000 per person during their time in Turkey and when they come as a family, this figure amounts to a total of $3,500.”

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