Turkey continues to be one of the world’s most popular and fastest developing tourist destinations in the world making dynamism and energy a byword for its tourism sector with 31.78 million people travelling to the country in 2012 and ranking 6th in terms of the number of these arrivals, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
By the end of June 14.55 million foreign visitors had arrived in Turkey – an impressive year-on-year increase of 14.35%. And it continues to go from strength to strength as one of the most popular and affordable holiday destinations for the UK, attracting 917,205 British visitors by the end of June 2013, a year-on-year increase of 2.44%, with Travelex recently tipping Turkey as one of the best-value destinations of this year (see below for more).
The London-based Turkish Culture & Tourism Office is also delighted to announce the appointment of its new Directors Ali Selcuk Can and Dr Aysegul Gurgezoglu, who have taken up their posts for what will be a new and dynamic phase in Turkish tourism.
Turkey is a holiday and business destination with universal appeal, combining fascinating culture and culinary delights with great weather, value for money, stunning scenery and warm hospitality. And did you know that Turkey is home to two Wonders of the Ancient World, 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 383 Blue Flag beaches, 21 Blue Flag marinas, 20 world-class golf courses, 20 ski centres, more endemic plant species than the whole of Europe and that Istanbul alone holds more than 100 major congresses each year?
Izmir for spas & organic living – The Izmir region of Turkey’s western area has an astonishing number of natural, thermal spas, the most famous of which is Pamukkale, with facilities having taken advantage of these by offering treatments using and inspired by these natural springs and thermals. A sophisticated region of Turkey, Izmir offers a plethora of organic food due to the prevalence of organic farming initiatives in the area and there are opportunities for yoga and spiritual breaks. All of this makes Izmir the perfect host city for the World EXPO 2020, which will cover physical and mental wellbeing as well as the healthy environment, for which it is bidding (more information in the ‘CONFEX News’ section of this newsletter).
Mount Erciyes: Turkey’s newest centre for winter tourism – With 60% Turkey surrounded by majestic mountains as a continuation of the Himalayan Alps, and more than a hundred peaks at over 3000 metres, there is plenty on offer for winter adventure, with altitudes on a par with the Alps. Most of Turkey’s ski resorts are nestled within forested mountains, providing a stunning setting and breathtaking views for a winter holiday – as well as all the delights of good accommodation, delicious Turkish cuisine, entertainment facilities and great value. The winter resort of Mount Erciyes, close to Kayseri in central Anatolia, is being turned into the country’s largest skiing and winter sports centre. Ready for the 2013/14 winter season, it will compete with the best of Europe’s skiing centres with its 100-km worth of ski slopes and 6000-bed capacity (rising to 15,000 once the resort is complete 2015/16). A trip to Kayseri’s Erciyes can be combined with Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ankara for a fascinating cultural or coastal-based multi-venue holiday.
Istanbul’s new hip districts Galata and Karakoy – Istanbul has a plethora of trendy clubs, restaurants and galleries but one prime waterfront area in particular is the talk of the moment. Galata and Karakoy have now become the ‘cool’ and ‘hipster’ district of Istanbul, something similar to Shoreditch of London but with the authentic Ottoman architecture. With its great transport links, Galata is also a good base to discover Istanbul’s magnificent mosques, atmospheric churches, intriguing museums and Sultans’ palaces or take to the waters of the Bosphorus to enjoy fresh fish overlooking the Black Sea.Contact us for a list of newly opened venues and interesting sites, including a newly reopened Ottoman hammam, to explore in Galata and surrounds.
Discover the Black Sea coast – Lush and green throughout the year, rocky mountains, the cool waters of the coast and plantations of tea, hazelnuts, tobacco and corn, the Black Sea is a unique part of Turkey. The culture, cuisine, climate and even dialect is different to the rest of Turkey, and the coastal road stretches from east of Istanbul to the border with Georgia. It is one of the country’s best-kept secrets, unspoilt by tourism and full of charm for the visitor who wants to sample a region with real character. Highlights include the fourth-century Sumela monastery with its astonishing frescoes, the tea plantations of Rize, some of the world’s best white-water rafting in the Coruh River and the Genoese fortress at Sinop, newly added to UNESCO’s tentative world heritage list.
Sporting News & Events
Istanbul is currently in the shortlist, along with Tokyo and Madrid, for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the winner will be announced in September 2013. www.istanbul2020.com.tr
There are a number of marathons happening across Turkey this autumn, including the Lycian Way Ultra Marathon in Fethiye and the Geyik Kosullari Trail Series in Istanbul. See the following link for a full list: www.marathons.ahotu.com/calendar/turkey/2013
The Turkish Airlines World Golf Final will become the Turkish Open this year, expanding from an eight-man exhibition event to an elite 78-man tournament on the European Tour. The penultimate event of the season, it will run 7-10 November and be played on the Colin Montgomerie-designed course at the Maxx Royal resort in Belek, Antalya. Check this link.
The trading posts and fortifications of the Genoese trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List. These include Istanbul’s Galata Tower and Sinop Castle. The Ancient City of Sardis and the Lydian Tumuli of Bin Tepe have also been added. Check this link.
Russell Crowe is to make his directing debut on the post-first world war drama The Water Diviner,which focuses on a father from Australia who travels to Turkey in 1919 searching for answers about his sons both of whom have gone missing following the battle for the Gallipoli Peninsula, which is today the best preserved WW1 battlefield in the world. Filming is expected to take place across Istanbul and other locations in Turkey http://thewaterdivinerfilm.wordpress.com
The 13th Istanbul Biennial, titled ‘Mom, am I a barbarian?’ will be held on 14 September-20 Octoberunder the curatorship of Fulya Erdemci, currently Director of SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam. It will focus on the theme of public space as a political forum and willunderscore the relationship between poetry, literature, poetics and art. http://bienal.iksv.org/en
Turkey’s first museum dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications, the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, and the first and only industrial museum in Ankara, the Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum received TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travellers Choice Award. Check this link.
UNESCO and Turkey have been celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Piri Reis World Map during 2013. As a rare world map from the 16th century, the Piri Reis World Map (1513), produced by Ottoman admiral and cartographer of the same name, is an invaluable piece of the world’s documentary heritage. Events include a symposium on Piri Reis and Turkish Maritime History to be held in Istanbul on 26-29 September 2013. Check this link.
A 10,000 square-metre cave area in Gaziantep will be transformed into a museum of history to open by March 2014. There will be images of early and late history in the caves, with trains being used to show people around, as well as a small lake in the middle of the exhibition area.
The ancient world’s ‘greatest church’ will open as an archaeopark in the Marmara region. The Mother Mary church, dating from the early Byzantine era (circa 500AD) and located in the modern-day village of Zeytinliada near Erdek, will open to tourists as a new archeopark soon.
The Central Anatolian province of Corum will be home to Turkey’s first door museum. The museum will be in the Iskilip district, which is famous for its wooden houses, centuries old fountains and historic structures man of which have recently been restored. Check this link.
Turkey in the UK
Renowned Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen brings an ambitious new installation to The Curve at the Barbican this autumn. Between 24 September 2013 and 5 January 2014 and inspired by the backdrops typically found in the world of theatre, ballet and opera, Erkmen animates eleven large painted cloths of varying dimensions, themes and opacities in a random sequence. The exhibition is accompanied by a public programme, including a talk with the artist and an artistic theatre workshop. Admission is free. www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery
Top holiday & city break destination
Turkey now has 383 Blue Flag beaches and 21 Blue Flag marinas, representing 10% of the world’s such awarded beaches! Blue Flag has just listed its approved beaches and marinas for 2013 with Turkey having more awards than it has ever had. Check this link.
Currency specialist Travelex has tipped Turkey as one of the hottest and best value destinations this summer. As the pound has been making gains against the Turkish Lira in the last four months holidaymakers can expect to get around an extra £30 in spending money when changing £500 (as of 11 July). Check this link.
Rough Guides have listed Turkey’s 20 Best Beaches in an online guide. The beaches listed include such lesser-known destinations as the islands of Bozcaada and Gokceada and Akliman on the Black Sea coast. www.roughguides.com/article/20-best-beaches-in-turkey/
Istanbul has scored big once again in Mastercard’s Index of Global Destination Cities, securing itself the 6th spot among 132 cities ranked in terms of international visitor arrivals and spending. Check this link.
Istanbul has been selected as the Best European Destination for 2013 by European Consumers Choiceafter online voting for the best European Destination. www.europeanconsumerschoice.org
Tourism Infrastructure & Airline News – Large projects
The world’s first intercontinental subway is set to open in October. As well as being the world’s first subway connecting two continents, the Marmaray Tunnel is also the world’s deepest immersed tube tunnel, with sections up to 60m below sea level. In addition to the 13.6km Bosphorus crossing, the project will also see a further 63km of suburban train lines upgraded, creating a new high-capacity rail line which will carry up to 75,000 passengers per hour in both directions. Check this link.
A new metro line has opened in Istanbul. The new line runs between the main bus terminal in Esenler and the proposed Olympic Park (for Istanbul’s 2020 bid).
Istanbul ‘gets its own ‘Disneyland’ on the Golden Horn. A theme park, the largest in Istanbul and inspired by Disneyland, has opened in Istanbul’s Eyup district on the Golden Horn. Vialand includes an aquapark, themepark and shopping centre. Check this link.
Turkey seeks to build six-runway airport, setting out plans to build one of the world’s biggest airports, at a cost of more than $5bn, as it steps up its efforts to make Istanbul a global hub. Check this link.
Turkey plans to build 12 new marinas to increase the country’s docking capacity for yachts and motor boats to at least 20,000 by 2015. Check this link.
Hotels & Resorts News
Istanbul’s Sirkeci Konak Hotel has been listed in Expedia’s Insiders’ Select list. The hotel has been ranked 71st out of the 650 hotels deemed Insiders’ Select 2013, chosen from a potential 150,000 hotels and resorts on Expedia. www.expedia.com/p/hotel-promo/insiders-select.htm
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ first Turkish property, Shangri-La Bosphorus, has opened on the European side of Istanbul, bringing the hotel’s signature spa brand, CHI, to the city. Inspired by the mysticism of the Shangri-La legend, the spa will feature seven treatment rooms for the best in Chinese healing therapies, as well as two Turkish hammams. www.shangri-la.com/istanbul/shangrila/
A new boutique hotel, the Haze Karakoy, with contemporary interiors has opened in Istanbul’s newest trendy Karakoy district. It has 44 rooms and views of the Sea of Marmara as well as of the Galata Tower. Its Fornera restaurant is run by Arda Turkmen, one of Istanbul’s most promising chefs, while a rooftop eatery with panoramic views is in the planning. www.thehazeistanbul.com/en
A safari-style camp Perdue, the first of its kind in Turkey, has opened in Faralya near Fethiye. Tented safari-style cottages overlooking the sea have their own decking and whirlpool baths and there is yoga and massage on site. www.perduehotel.com
Club Med has opened a new resort in Belek, close to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. It offers a range of wellness and sports facilities and activities for families, as well as being close to an 18-hole golf course and 2.5km sandy beach. Check this link.
Thomson has opened its fifth Sensatori hotel in Sorgun, near Side in Antalya province. With a great beachfront setting, there are five pools, five restaurants and a wide range of sports and wellbeing options at this flagship five-star venue of Thomson. Check this link.
A contemporary and minimalist boutique hotel, Mola Cunda, has opened on Aegean island of Cunda. Newly built in the local architectural style but with a modern twist, rooms and suites are all white and there is a swimming pool, gardens and views of the sea. www.molacunda.com/index.php
Voyage Hotels group announces the growth of Maxx Royal, their luxury 5 star brand, with the launch of Maxx Royal Kemer, Turkey in May 2014. Maxx Royal Kemer will be an all-suites hotel situated on a 160,000m2 land of bewitching nature and is surrounded by the Taurus Mountains and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, has a private beach and three bays. www.maxxroyal.com
A new Raffles hotel, with one of the largest spas in the city, will open later in 2013 in the award-winning Zorlu Centre in Istanbul. The hotel will have 180 rooms and suites, a ballroom with a 1200-person capacity, two restaurants and bars, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a heliport. It is will also be home to a signature Raffles Spa, set to be one of the largest spas in Istanbul at approximately 3000 square metres. www.raffles.com/destination-map/hoteldestinations
DoubleTree by Hilton has announced the opening of its fifth hotel in Turkey, in the Avcilar district of Istanbul. Click this link.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts is set to open three new hotels in Turkey in the coming years, the Sheraton Adana Hotel, the Sheraton Bursa Hotel and the Aloft Bursa. Click this link.
A perennial hallmark of international exclusivity, Soho House has recognised the importance of giving its members a home among the hubs of creativity around the world. It has chosen Istanbul to be the location of its biggest property ever, opening in 2014. www.sohohouse.com
The luxury Mandarin Oriental group is set to arrive in Turkey with the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, opening in 2014 on a beachfront location. Located on a 60-hectare site with panoramic views over the Aegean Sea, there will be 82 exclusive guestrooms and 20 suites providing the largest accommodation in the area, many with private gardens and infinity edged pools. Plans are also in place for a Mandarin Oriental Istanbul on the shores of the Bosphorus in Besiktas and set to open in 2016. Check this link.
The Rhossos Rotana Resort and Serviced Apartments, a 300-room city resort located in Iskenderun the commercial centre of the Hatay region in Turkey’s southeast, will open in 2014. A first for Rotana in Turkey, the resort will feature a 200m private beachfront, Turkish spa & health club, business centre, large wedding and banqueting facilities, pool and a variety of food & beverage outlets. Check this link.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will open a new resort in Cesme, Izmir, in 2016. Four Seasons Resort Cesme, with 130 resort suites and 16 private hilltop villas offering extraordinary sea views, will be the company’s third property in Turkey and set in an area renowned for its vineyards and therapeutic thermal springs. Check this link.
Turkish Airlines has been recommended by Which? as being best for flights to Turkey in a recent report. Turkish Airlines, which flies from London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester, was by far the highest scoring carrier in the results for Turkey flights. Check this link.
The new 43,000m2 Ephesus Convention Centre has opened in Kusadasi. Built close to the famous ruins, the centre’s two auditoriums have been inspired by Anatolia’s ancient amphitheatres and there is also a 2780m2 exhibition hall as well as 35 meeting rooms. There are more than 1000 guest rooms within walking distance, and plans to build new hotels in the region are under way. www.ecc.com.tr/home
Expo 2016 Antalya. A huge expo of agriculture and horticulture will held in Antalya over six months in 2016 with 100 countries exhibiting and eight million people expected to attend. Themes include plant production, organic agriculture, insect & animal breeding, cut flowers and bio-energy. www.expo2016antalya.com/eng.htm
EXPO 2020 Izmir. The Aegean city of Izmir is bidding to host the 2020 World EXPO, which will last six months and is expected to attract 16 million visitors. It would be the first EXPO to be organised in the eastern Mediterranean region, its theme being ‘New routes to a better world / Health for all’ and cover physical and mental wellbeing as well as the healthy environment. www.expoizmir.org.tr/en
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