“Turkey tourism sector buoyed by ‘Arab Spring’ ” – Cumhuriyet

“Turkey’s rising regional status in the Arab world swept by popular uprisings against dictatorships is translating into a booming tourism sector at a time of chill in ties with one time ally Israel.

The number of Arab tourists visiting Turkey has dramatically increased over the recent years, making the country a favourite destination in the Arab world, while Israeli tourist numbers have plunged sharply, official data showed. […]

The number of Arab tourists visiting Turkey increased by 16 percent in the first eight months this year, according to the ministry’s statistics.

Istanbul is regarded as one of Turkey’s main tourism destinations as well as Antalya in the Mediterranean.

Some 1.4 million Arab tourists visited Turkey in the period from January to August this year, up from 1.2 million in the same period in 2010 and from nearly 912,000 in 2009.

“We expect to reach 1.7 million Arab tourists in 2011,” said Mehmet Habbab, head of the Turkish-Lebanese Business Council. […]

But another factor is the popularity of Turkish soap operas in the region, with tourists eager to see the Ottoman palaces, ancient sites of Istanbul, and other locations featured in the television series.

“Wherever you go in the Arab world, people talk about Turkish soap operas. Last year Turkey got 67 million dollars in income solely from exporting TV series to Arab countries,” said Habbab.

Source : Cumhuriyet

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