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Turkey’s tourism revenue surged in 2023, reaching $54.3 billion: TurkStat

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Turkey’s tourism revenue skyrocketed in 2023, reaching a record high of $54.3 billion with an increase of 17 percent over the previous year, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).

A total of 57.1 million people, both foreigners and Turks living abroad, visited Turkey in 2023, an 11.1 percent increase over 2022. Almost 14 percent of all visitors in 2023, 7.7 million, comprised Turkish expatriates.

The tourism industry’s previous record was $46.48 billion in 2022.

In the fourth quarter of last year, tourism revenue climbed 6.8 percent over the fourth quarter of the previous year to $12.27 billion, Turkstat data showed.

“We displayed the best tourism performance of all time in 2023,” Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced on X on Wednesday.

Şimşek said the government expects the upward trend in the tourism sector to continue in 2024 and attract 59.4 million visitors and revenue of $59.6 billion.

The minister also said the government’s target for 2028 was to earn $100 billion in revenue from 82.3 million visitors.

Most of the visitors, 63.6 percent, came to Turkey in 2023 for “sightseeing, entertainment, sports and cultural activities.” They were followed by people who came to visit “family members or friends,” at 22.4 percent. Six percent of the visitors came to the country for “shopping.”

The number of visitors to Turkey hit their lowest level of the past two decades in 2020, recorded at only 15.8 million due to the coronavirus pandemic. Turkey quickly recovered in the following years, with revenue reaching a record level in 2023 despite two powerful earthquakes that hit the country’s south and southeastern regions in February, causing massive damage and claiming more than 50,000 lives.

Turkey relies heavily on tourism revenue due to its deteriorating economy. The country has been suffering from skyrocketing inflation, which stood at nearly 65 percent in December, and depreciation of the Turkish lira for the past several years.

BlueBay Asset Management economist Timothy Ash described Turkey’s tourism data as “incredible performance,” on his X account on Wednesday while hoping it help fight against the high inflation.

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