Culture and Tourism Ministry Undersecretary Özgür Özaslan explains that diversifying Turkey's tourism as well as spreading it out throughout the year are plans being put into effect as part of the principles outlined in the 'Turkey Tourism Strategy 2023' brief.
Noting that the United Nations World Tourism Organization foresees three to four percent growth worldwide for 2012, Özaslan states, ''Taking into consideration the current global economic environment, we are expecting Turkey's tourism figures at the end of the year to be above global averages."
Explaining that plans are to focus on health, thermal, winter, golf, sea, conference and fair tourism in the upcoming period, Özasalan states, "We currently have 64 thermal tourism centers and four Thermal Culture and Tourism Conservation and Development Districts," which will have a 525,000 bed capacity he explains. "We completed the Thermal Tourism Master Plan at the end of 2007."
Özaslan also noted that there are 21 winter tourism centers in Turkey and stated, "We held the 2011 Universiad in the Erzurum Palandöken Winter Sports Tourism Center. We also expanded the skiing areas in the Kars-Sarıkamış Winter and Nature Sports Center. Our efforts to promote these new centers are ongoing.
As for religious tourism, we have designated Urfa, Mardin, Mersin-Tarsus and the Antakya-Hatay districts as pilot regions."
BRAND CITIES FOR CULTURE TOURISM
Explaining that Adıyaman, Amasya, Bursa, Edirne, Gaziantep, Hatay, Konya, Kütahya, Manisa, Nevşehir, Kars, Mardin, Sivas, Şanlıurfa and Trabzon have all been branded as 'Culture Tourism Brand Cities', Özaslan states that the objective is to establish museums, art centers and transportation access that is at international standards.
"HIGHEST NUMBER OF HEALTH TOURISM VISITORS ARE FROM GERMANY"
Özaslan also mentioned that significant initiatives have been taken in the area of health tourism in recent years. "The highest numbers of visitors that come to Turkey in connection to health tourism are from Germany, followed by Holland, Austria and Scandinavian nations. One of Turkey's best advantages when it comes to health tourism is the number of experts, accredited hospitals, affordable pricing and quality service in medical areas including eyes, dental work, plastic surgery and cardiology.
Özaslan explains that their target market in this area is the Middle East, Germany, the Balkan nations, Russia, the United States, Central Asia, France and the Gulf and Scandinavian nations and states, "When it comes to health tourism, Germans and the Dutch generally come for eye treatment, cardiology, orthopedics and surgery, Russians and Ukrainians tend to come for orthopedics and oncology, from the Middle East visitors tend to come for plastic surgery, cardiology and organ transplants and from the Central Asian Turkic Republics they tend to come for bone marrow, dental work or for orthopedic purposes."