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Istanbul Shatters 10-Year Tourism Record with Surge in Saudi and Kuwaiti Visitors


In a remarkable turn of events, Istanbul has broken a decade-long record for tourist arrivals, experiencing an impressive influx of visitors from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the month of July.

Data unveiled by the Istanbul Directorate of Culture and Tourism showcases a noteworthy 6% year-on-year rise in tourist visits for July, with an astounding 1.87 million foreign tourists choosing Istanbul as their preferred destination. This remarkable figure stands as the highest recorded in a decade for the vibrant Turkish city.

While Russia and Germany secured the top two spots as leading sources of inbound tourism for Istanbul in July, with 185,636 and 135,568 tourists respectively, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region continued its strong presence in the top 10 rankings, with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait securing the third and ninth positions respectively.

The robust connectivity between the kingdom and Turkey, facilitated by carriers such as Saudia, Flynas, Turkish Airlines, and Pegasus Airlines, contributed to an impressive influx of 135,096 Saudi Arabian visitors to Istanbul during July. Additionally, 45,854 tourists from Kuwait embarked on journeys to the captivating Turkish city within the same month.

Notably, Istanbul has embraced a remarkable total of 9.77 million foreign tourists during the initial seven months of 2023. This achievement marks an extraordinary 15% growth compared to last year’s figures of 8.5 million for the corresponding period. It is also noteworthy that Istanbul has played host to nearly one-third of the total 26,766,240 tourists who have visited Turkey during the opening seven months of this year.

The attraction for GCC Tourists

Turkey has ardently attracted tourists from the GCC region post-pandemic through augmented flight connectivity and visa waiver initiatives. A recent development saw the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Oman discussing the abolishment of entry visas for citizens of both countries. This strategic move follows the entrance of 130,000 Omani visitors into Turkey for tourism purposes in 2022. The Ambassador anticipates the approval of this proposal before the year concludes.

Furthermore, tourist arrivals from Kuwait have been progressively increasing, fueled by burgeoning investment opportunities. As per data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute last year, investors from Kuwait stood second, trailing only Iraq, in terms of real estate property acquisitions in Turkey, securing an impressive total of 8,442 properties over a span of seven years.

Additional countries making an appearance on the Turkish institute‘s list of top real estate purchasers encompass Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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