The rise and rise of Turkey

By | Category: Travel destinations

Istanbul; where east meets west as the old saying goes

As a holiday destination, Turkey has become one of the most enjoyed and important destinations for British and Irish holidaymakers. Some doom-mongers had prophesised that the trouble in the Arab world might cause us to stay away but not a bit of it.

In the first six months of this year, 917,000 of us had holidayed there. Given that the summer holidays hadn’t yet begun it is obvious that the total for the year will once again be in millions. From the rest of the world the numbers had reached 14.55 million.

So what has Turkey to offer that has seen tourism jump by so much in a little over twenty years?

The first thing must be currency exchange. By being outside the euro, Turkey took advantage so that their currency always has – and still does – look like a bargain. It has traded on that and the world “Turkey” and “good deals” or “great value-for-money” crop up in the same news stories time and time again.

The second is infrastructure. It wasn’t long ago that Istanbul had a new airport. Now there are plans to build a six-runway hub airport. Try getting a proposal like that past our government and people without years of debate and argument? Next month the Marmaray Tunnel opens which will link the European and Asiatic continents. All make it easier for travellers and holidaymakers to get around quickly and comfortably.

Bodrum

For the visitor who wants a lazy beach holiday, there are 383 Blue Flag beaches which, astonishingly enough, is 10% of all the Blue Flag beaches that there are in the world! It has beaches on the Mediterranean, beaches on the Black sea and beaches fronting the Sea of Marmaris. There are islands in the Aegean for the sailor and the island-hopper.

For the skier, there are twenty different centres with over 100 peaks at above 3,000 metres. A new centre – Mount Erclyes – opens with 6,000 available beds for this coming season. In just two years’ time, it is planned that the figure will have more than doubled to 15,000. It may not appear in many tour operator brochures yet but the combination of value-for-money, accommodation and lack of queues for getting to the pistes will mean it soon will do.

Baklava

Turkey has a culture that is different to ours but includes a lot of what we will have experienced. Who has never had a kebab or baklava? So it won’t be totally new to the average holidaymaker. Linked to that culture it has heritage. A past that is on a par with anything Italy or Greece offers and this is where the legendary city of Troy was. Today the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of eleven in the country but many more are under consideration.

As a city-break, don’t only think of Istanbul. Ankara – the capital – is under-rated as a place to visit although some of the regeneration in the suburbs to show Turkey as it was, is well worth a visit.

Yes you need a visa to travel there which will cost $US20 and is valid for 180 days. And there’s my only moan. In the old days I had a sticker in my passport. Now its just electronic! It jst gets harder and harder to have a passport that looks as though you have travelled.

The country will be disappointed today that it wasn’t given the 2020 Olympic Games last night. The setback will be short-lived. Turkey will be working on its next reason to encourage us to holiday there.

For more information on Turkey, click here

Images © Turkish Culture & Tourism Office

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