Turkey's beleaguered tourism is aiming at attracting over one million Chinese this year to fill vacancies left by a dwindling number of foreign arrivals mainly from Europe and Russia, tourism professionals said.
"Turkey should urgently expand its target market to China as the country is having one of its worst years in tourism," said Cetin Gurcun, secretary general of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
Repeated terror attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities amid a deteriorating security situation, coupled with poor relations with Russia, have brought down the number of foreign travelers and revenues to an extent being felt by all in the industry.
As a result, Turkish tourism, which contributes some 4.5 percent to the country's economy, is expected to lose more than 7.6 million tourists this year, while the loss in revenue is supposed to hit nine billion U.S. dollars, according to the latest projections by the Tourism Data Bank.
Meanwhile, approximately 100 million Chinese travel around the world each year, as a result of significant economic growth in the country during the past decade, TURSAB data show. The number of Chinese visiting Turkey in 2015 was 314,000, according to TURSAB data.
Some Turkish hotels and touristic sites have modified their decorations to appeal to Chinese, amended their menus to suit Chinese' tastes, while many tour guides have started to learn Chinese.
ATU Duty Free, a travel retail company, has recently partnered with UnionPay, a payment system referred by Chinese tourists, who are listed among the top five foreign customers with highest ending rates per capita at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.
The deal offers an exclusive 10 percent discount to Chinese tourists during 2016 in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir airport stores.
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