Tourism: Turkish operators urge Italy to scrap visa, invest

Isiamed mission in Istanbul. Boom an opportunity for companies

26 April, 12:24

    (by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, APRIL 26 - Turkish tourism operators who have been meeting Italian entrepreneurs in the past few days in Istanbul during at an event organized by the Italian institute for Asia and the Mediterranean (Isiamed) in cooperation with the culture and information office of the Turkish embassy in Rome have called on Italy to ease rules to enter the country and boost the presence of Italian investors in the tourism sector.

    'In 2012 Turkish tourists who visited the country or chose to travel abroad reached 12 million', said the president of Tursab, the Association of Turkish travel agencies, Basaran Ulusoy. 'In 2013 - the year in which we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of our republic - this number will grow to 35 million. Italy can and must intercept this phenomenon. The Turkish tourist is discovering the world and spends well'.

    In 2012, 196,000 Turkish tourists visited Italy. 'Making their number grow is possible', said Ulusoy. 'But the main obstacle remains the release of visas'. Entry rules should be simplified and visas scrapped, he said. 'Italy should eliminate this wall which is keeping us away'.

    Italian investments in tourism should also grow, according to Turkish tourism operators. Italy is Turkey's sixth commercial partner with exchanges worth 19,7 billion dollars between January and December 2012, according to data by the Italian institute for foreign trade, Ice. Italian companies in Turkey were 1,000 though none are operating in the tourism sector.

    Turkey has made great progress in this sector in the past few years becoming the sixth most visited country worldwide in 2011 with 31,7 million tourists. The objective is to welcome 35 million foreign tourists by 2023. 'By that time Turkey aims to increase the number of hotels and other accommodation structures, increasing the number of bed units from the current 1,2 million in 2012 to 1,7 million with an overall investment of 1,8 billion dollars', said the Turkish Tourism Investors Association. 'Great potential is offered by spas, winter resorts and cultural sites (including art cities which are still little known), as well as by religious pilgrimages, golf resorts and health spas', said the association's secretary general Levent Egeli.

    Italian operators remain careful in spite of Turkey's efforts to attract foreign investments. 'Although Turkey has grown significantly and the tourism market is very attractive, few entrepreneurs can take such a leap at this time', said the director general of hoteliers' association Federalberghi, Alessandro Nucara. (ANSAmed)
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