Financial Tribune – Iran was Turkey’s biggest source of tourism in August. Latest data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute show 276,000 Iranian tourists visited Turkey in August to register a 45% increase compared with the similar month of last year.
Close to 1.37 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey during the first eight months of 2019, accounting for 4.4% of all foreign tourists who visited the neighboring country.
In fact, Iran was Turkey’s fifth biggest source of tourism from January to August, latest data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute show.
Russia with 5 million, Germany with 3.3 million, the UK with 1.8 million, and Bulgaria with 1.6 constituted the main tourist sources for Turkey before Iran during the eight months under review.
Passenger train services resumed on Tehran-Tabriz-Van Railroad on June 24 after they were suspended for nearly four years.
On Aug. 7, passenger train services resumed between Iran and Turkey’s capital cities, Tehran and Ankara, respectively. The services have been scheduled to run on a weekly basis.
Train services between Iran and Turkey were suspended in 2015 due to security concerns about terrorist attacks on the route.
“Negotiations are underway between the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and the State Railways of the Republic of Turkey for launching passenger trains between Tehran and Istanbul,” says the head of IRIR, Saeed Rasouli.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Turkey was the most popular overseas destination for Iranian travelers in 2018, accounting for 41% of all foreign visits.
It was followed by Iraq (18%), the UAE (11%), Syria and Armenia (4% each). The remaining 22% belonged to other parts of the world.
A report published by the Hotel Association of Turkey shows some 2.5 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, making the country the top destination for Iranian holidaymakers. Iraq, the UAE and Armenia followed Turkey as most popular destinations for Iranians.
In 2016, 1.7 million Iranian tourists spent their holidays in Turkey. The report noted that Iranians on average spend six nights in Turkey and $1,000 per person versus $630 spent by other foreign tourists per capita.
Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, the eastern province of Van and the southern province of Antalya are the most popular destinations for Iranian vacationers.
Thousands of Iranians flocked to Turkey during Iran’s two-week New Year holiday, known as Norouz, this year (started March 21), creating a great stir in Turkey’s tourism sector.
More than 18,000 Iranian tourists entered Turkey from the eastern province of Van’s Kapikoy border checkpoint alone during the first week of Norouz, while other Turkish provinces such as Erzurum, Rize and Antalya also welcomed Iranian tourists in this period.
Arriving in a wide range of cities from Van and Adana to Erzurum and Rize, Iranians have pleased both tradesmen and hoteliers, especially in this low season period. Hotel occupancy in some regions exceeded 80%.
Turkey was also the third biggest source of tourism to Iran last year after Iraq and Azerbaijan, accounting for 8% of all foreign tourists who visited Iran in 2018.