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Tourism in Turkey

Tourism in Turkey

Turkey recorded a total of 16 million tourists in 2020, ranking 15th in the world in absolute terms.

The fact that larger countries regularly perform better in a comparison of the absolute number of guests is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Turkey, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.19 tourists per resident, Turkey ranked 92nd in the world. In Western Asia, it ranked 10th.

Turkey generated around 13.77 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 1.9 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 20 percent of all international tourism receipts in Western Asia.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism


Back to overview: Turkey

Most popular destinations in Turkey

No less than 3 cities in Turkey are among the top 100 most popular destinations worldwide. In 2019 Istanbul reached the 9th place with 14.72 million tourists. According to Euromonitor, all foreign tourists with at least one overnight stay were counted.

CityTouristsRankChange
Istanbul14,715,900#9+9.6%
Antalya13,332,100#12+7.2%
Mugla2,920,800#81+7.2%


Tourism in TurkeyOn average, each of the tourists arriving in 2020 spent about 729 US Dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Turkey spend only around 618 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

The most popular destinations within Turkey are mainly the major cities of Istanbul and Antalya, which are rich in history, as well as the coastal regions of the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. Most tourists come from Russia and Germany. Located on the border of Asia and Europe and with a varied history, Turkey offers a variety of focuses depending on the region. The history of the country in influenced by the Persians, Greeks and Romans of antiquity, the Ottoman Empire and trade between the continents. This resulted in an impressive culture with numerous influences. From Greek temples to Roman aqueducts to cathedrals, cave churches and amphitheaters, Turkey offers culture from as many eras as almost any other country.

With over 7000 km of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, there are countless opportunities for bathing holidays in a Mediterranean climate. Most popular are the Aegean Sea in the northwest and the Turkish Riviera in the south of the country. Due to the lack of industry near the coast, the water quality here has achieved top marks for decades, and impressive standing and underwater images regularly grace the catalogs of the travel industry.

With only a few exceptions, the number of travelers increases every year. In 2016, tourism plummeted noticeably due to the Syria crisis and the associated terror threat. Also in 2010/21, as in almost all countries, tourist numbers remained far below the usual levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The different understanding of the law in the mainly Western countries compared with Turkey often has a problematic effect. While public expression of opinion is accepted or customary in many countries, it is viewed far more restrictively in Turkey. For example, the foreign offices of Germany and Austria issued travel warnings in 2018.

Development of the tourism sector in Turkey from 1995 to 2020

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Turkey each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 18 countries in Western Asia.

Tourists per year in Turkey

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 4.96 billion USD, or about 2.9 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 7.73 million tourists at that time and roughly 642 USD per person. Within 25 years, the country's dependence on tourism has decreased substantially. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 13.77 billion USD, accounting for 1.9 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 862 USD for his holiday in Turkey.

Tourism receipts in Turkey per year

All data for Turkey in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
202015.97 m13.77 bn $1.9 %862 $
201951.75 m41.42 bn $5.4 %800 $
201846.11 m36.79 bn $4.7 %798 $
201737.97 m31.99 bn $3.7 %843 $
201630.91 m26.51 bn $3.0 %858 $
201541.11 m35.65 bn $4.1 %867 $
201441.63 m40.03 bn $4.3 %962 $
201339.86 m37.98 bn $4.0 %953 $
201237.72 m31.57 bn $3.6 %837 $
201136.77 m30.30 bn $3.6 %824 $
201033.00 m26.32 bn $3.4 %798 $
200931.76 m26.33 bn $4.1 %829 $
200831.14 m26.45 bn $3.4 %849 $
200727.22 m21.66 bn $3.2 %796 $
200619.82 m19.14 bn $3.4 %966 $
200521.13 m20.76 bn $4.1 %983 $
200417.52 m15.89 bn $3.9 %907 $
200314.03 m13.20 bn $4.2 %941 $
200213.26 m11.90 bn $5.0 %898 $
200111.62 m10.07 bn $5.0 %866 $
200010.43 m7.64 bn $2.8 %732 $
19997.49 m5.20 bn $2.0 %695 $
19989.75 m7.18 bn $2.6 %736 $
19979.69 m7.00 bn $3.7 %723 $
19968.61 m5.65 bn $3.1 %656 $
19957.73 m4.96 bn $2.9 %642 $


Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The WTO additionally points out that in some countries the number of tourists is only counted at airports, in others also at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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