Arab Spring Fuels Tourist Boom in Turkey
29 July 2011
There has been an increase in the number of Kuwaitis and Saudis, and other Gulf state nationals visiting Turkey. These tourists would previously have chosen to spend their summer in Egypt or Syria, but due to the continuing unrest in other Arab countries they are choosing to come to Turkey where they feel a lot safer.
According to figures from the Turkish Ministry of culture and tourism, bookings from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have increased by a massive 75%, and with Ramadan due to begin in just a few days many hotels in Istanbul and Bursa are fully booked. Shopkeepers in Istanbul have also noticed a significant increase in the number of Arab tourists over the past year.
There are around 1 million Arabs currently living in Turkey, and their language skills are now in demand as many Turks don't speak either English or Arabic, as in the past learning Arabic was only considered necessary for religious scholars. It's now becoming increasingly common to see language schools in Istanbul offering courses in Arabic, and shops are beginning to advertise for Arabic speakers.
These Arab tourists are also choosing to visit the Black Sea coast, as temperatures here tend to be a little cooler than the more traditional resorts such as Antalya and Fethiye which attract British and German tourists. Another attraction is that Turkey is a Muslim country, and Arab visitors don't need to worry about the food or the culture here, and over the last couple of years the Turkish government has removed visa requirements for visitors from Yemen, Qatar, Jordan, Syria and the Lebanon.