Last year revenue from tourists visiting Turkey increased by 10.6% compared to a year earlier, with tourism revenue reaching $23 billion in 2011 compared to $20.8 billion a year earlier. This growth comes from the fact that the number of tourists grew and so did the amount they spent. According to the data 36 million visitors came to Turkey last year, up from 33 million in 2010 and they spent $7 more at $637 per person on average compared to $630 in 2010.
These are important statistics, as tourism is very important to the country, which has a large current account deficit due to its dependence on foreign energy and imported goods. At the moment Turkey’s current-account deficit is 9% of GDP, although monetary measures are having some success in bringing this down. Turkey is investing substantially in renewable energy sources to decrease its dependence on foreign supplies, and is also increasing its industrial output and exports. Nevertheless, tourism remains one of its most effective weapons in fighting the current account deficit.
Figures also show that although less Turks went abroad last year they spent more, with 6.3 million travelling abroad and spending an average of $790, compared to 6.6 million going abroad in 2010 and spending $735 each on average. This led to an overall growth in the amount spent by Turks abroad from $4.8 billion in 2010 to nearly $5 billion in 2011.
Turkey is growing in popularity as a holiday destination, and experts are predicting that tourism figures could reach 40 million or even 50 million within the next few years. For this figure to be sustainable the tourism market will need to diversify. However, with sectors like eco and health tourism and even luxury tourism growing rapidly in the country this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.