India could play a key role in transforming Turkey into a 365 days destination, as off-season travel into the Mediterranean country would provide great value for money to the discerning Indian traveller, said Deniz Ersöz, Culture & Tourism Counsellor, Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in India. Excerpts from an exclusive interview on tourism trends, Turkey’s outreach plan and much more:
Turning Turkey into an all-year destination and Indian therein
Tourism in Turkey is highly seasonal. Most visited seasons include April to June and September to mid-November. With an eye on turning the Mediterranean country into a year-long destination, Turkey was planning to drive Indian outbound in relatively low months for tourism. Deniz explained that not only would it solve Turkey’s tourism industry’s issues vis-à-vis low tourist seasons but also provide products and services to Indian travellers at a much more competitive price. “It would be a win-win situation for both of us as Indian high seasons are different from ours. India is a very important market for us in that regard,” he said.
Social media and digital outreach were going to be integral to Turkey’s modus operandi in India, Deniz clarified. He noted that the number of internet users in India was an indicator enough that “Turkish tourism needed to expand its sphere of influence on social media platforms.” He added that it was going to high on their agenda.
When asked if Turkey would take a similar route, using the services of Bollywood superstars, like some of the others, most notably Switzerland, he suggested that there were “no such immediate plans.” He, however, conceded that the Indian film industry was a “major influencer” and he was open to “short projects, involving Bollywood stars” for highlighting the wedding segment.
On leisure and more
Leisure outbound had continued to drive a large percentage of the total numbers from India, Deniz suggested. He shared that Turkey was “observing almost 60-65 percent leisure travel from India.” He mentioned that MICE, however, was also playing a significant role in driving traffic, contributing to about 30 percent.
The Indian wedding segment, considered globally a lucrative segment up for grabs, had gained some momentum and was poised to become a notable driver of Indian traffic into Turkey, we were told. While the traffic only amounted to 5 percent of the total Indian inbound, it was a growing sector, Deniz suggested. “This year, so far, we have had 10-11 weddings in Turkey and we expect the numbers to go up to 20 by the end of this year,” he shared.
In terms of specifics, Turkey has registered a hundred percent spike in tourist numbers, in the first six months of 2018, compared to the previous year. The growth reflected in Deniz’s assertion when he emphatically announced that “about 200000 Indians could be visiting Turkey by the end of this year.” “It is going to be a record for Turkish Tourism in the Indian market,” he said.
Outreach and marketing in India have its own challenges. Given the scale and diversity of the country, nuanced measures are needed to create a visible impact. Deniz told us that joint promotional activities had been undertaken, roping in major tour operators. He shared that Turkey was undertaking “special events” to attract more corporate footfalls. Buoyed by the growth in weddings, activities for Indian wedding travellers were being planned by roping in Turkish DMCs, he informed.
He revealed that Turkish Tourism had embarked on a three-pronged strategy, “focussing equally on MICE, leisure and wedding segments. “We want to promote them separately from each other and are having different promotional activities for each one of them,” he said, giving an overview of the road ahead. He mentioned that a congregation of Turkish DMCs and hotels were slated to come to India in October and that roadshows were “one of the main tools intended to drive the outreach.” “We intend to undertake some joint promotional campaigns, beginning September, as the Turkish Tourism Board, backed by FAM trips for corporate and wedding planners,” he shared.
Key Indian aviation hubs have naturally emerged as source markets for Turkey. Delhi and Mumbai have a lion’s share of leisure footfalls while Bengaluru and Hyderabad are principle hubs for MICE travel. Turkish Airlines operates a daily direct flight from Delhi and Mumbai, adding to the emergence of these two cities as the most important markets. While the focus on core source markets was going to continue unabated, Turkey was equally sizing up tertiary and secondary markets, Deniz said. He said there were “plans for Bengaluru and Hyderabad”, indicating that a dedicated drive to muscle up MICE numbers could well be imminent.
Tourism in Turkey
Tourism’s contribution to Turkey’s coffers is close to that of India. Deniz shared that tourism directly contributed as much as 27 billion USD to the nation’s economy. “According to the information provided by WTO, tourism has been growing each year by about four percent – both in terms of numbers and income. So, tourism is important for us,” he said, reflecting.