Convention tourism on the rise in Turkey

April 13, 2014, Sunday/ 17:39:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / İstanbul

Turkey has witnessed a significant rise in the number of international conventions taking place in the country over the last decade and convention tourism now accounts for a significant share of Turkey's tourism revenue, according to a report published by the Turkish Association of Travel Agents (TÜRSAB) on Sunday.

In 2013, 2.4 million visitors came to Turkey for the purpose of attending fairs, seminars and conventions, which brought $2.5 billion in tourism revenue, totaling 7.7 percent of total tourism revenue for the year. The number of conventions taking place in Turkey with over 500 participants has dramatically increased in the past decade; there were 80 such conventions in 2004, a number which had risen to 196 by 2013, according to the report. The majority of conventions took place in İstanbul, 52 of which took place in 2004, rising to 142 last year.

“Convention tourism nationwide has been a large part of the tourism boom in İstanbul, which welcomed over 10 million visitors last year. By joining the ranks of the world's leading touristic cities such as Paris, London and Rome, the city has revealed its strong potential,” said TÜRSAB President Başaran Ulusoy in the report.

The Efes Convention Center, which opened last year in the Aegean coastal city of Kuşadası, is by far the largest convention center nationwide in terms of its capacity, having space for 12,000 people. The foundations of the center were laid in 2005 and the project was completed at a cost of $200 million. Most of the other large convention centers are located in İstanbul and have capacities of between 2,000 and 6,000.

Last year, İstanbul ranked among the top 10 cities worldwide for the number of conventions and conferences held exceeding 500 participants. İstanbul came ninth in the list, between Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Vienna, Paris and Berlin took the top three spots.

The report expects that tourism revenue from conventions in İstanbul alone will bring in $1.7 billion in revenue in 2014.

In 2013, 34.9 million tourists came to Turkey in total, bringing in $32.3 billion in tourism revenue.

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