World Bulletin / News Desk
Senior official of tourism sector, Cetin Gurcun, told AA that between January-November of 2013, 31 million people have visited Turkey according to official figures and they expect 3 million more to visit the country.
“We were predicting that around 35 million people will visit Turkey next year. But Iranian deal has changed our calculations,” Gurcun, newly elected Secretary General of Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), said.
During 2010-11, approximately 2 million Iranians visited Turkey but that number dropped sharply to around 1 million in 2012. Gurcun said that during 2012, Iranians’ economy was not robust enough due to international embargoes.
“With recent deal, Iran’s economy will regain its strength and that will affect us in a positive way. We expect serious demand from Iranians. The deal will also lower tension in the Middle East that will be positive for us as well,” Gurcun noted.
The UN Security Council sanctioned Iran due to its controversial nuclear program. While the western countries are suspicious that Tehran is after atomic bomb, Iran denies such accusations and defends that its program is peaceful. With Hassan Rouhani’s election to presidency, international atmosphere has changed and Iranian high officials softened their stance on nuclear program that paved the way for historic deal.
Cetin Gurcun is also hopeful of Russian market. As its economy recovers, the number of Russian tourists will increase, Gurcun said. In response to a question whether a visa deal between Turkey and the European Union could affect tourism sector, Gurcun replied that Turkey has no tough visa policy for Europeans and thus he does not expect a sharp increase. “That deal may affect Turkish tourists anyway,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Cetin Gurcun also voiced his high expectation from Istanbul, already a point of attraction around the world. “Istanbul has no concept. The city is like a mineral resource and we are still waiting in front of its door. We did not yet step in,” he said, adding that the association will work hard to polish Istanbul more.