The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is celebrating an increased share of the tourist market. Over 24 million holiday-makers visited Turkey in the first three quarters of 2009. Overall the increase of 1.96% is a triumph when set against a belt-tightening period. More spectacular is the country having increased British tourism by an impressive 9.05 percent.

The figures are backed by holiday home rental companies with one company posting a 70 percent increase in interest. Among airlines announcing new routes to Turkey is Pegasus Airlines. The company is set to run seventeen routes between the UK and Turkey. According to Q3 Travel Money Report the Turkish lira is now the third most popular currency exchange after the euro and U.S. dollar.

The strength of the euro is not helping matters. The Turkish lira is one of the few currencies against which the pound has held its value. Does this explain why a 9 percent increase in British visitors to Turkey is coincidentally close to the decline in British tourists to Spain?

OWN GOAL SPAIN?

Has Spain’s unassailable advantages as a British-led tourist destination come off the rails for other reasons? The downside to any holiday is the cattle truck environment of air travel. It takes twice as long to get to Turkey as it does to travel to Spain, and is more expensive. A self booked Turkish holiday rental is far more problematic.  

Is it the cost of dining out? Phil Heath and his wife Christine recently treated themselves and their three guests to a three-course meal, wine included, at two Costa Blanca restaurants. The cost worked out at less than 6€ per diner. Sadly, such good value restaurants are being betrayed by venues charging outrageous prices. Tourists are not stupid and quickly spot evidence of rip-off Britain in Spain.

The Turkish advantage is a vibrant al fresco restaurant ambience; friendly and animated (over enthusiastic) service; with a plethora of quality entertainment.

PUBLIC TRASHPORT

An important plus enjoyed by Spain is its familiarity to visiting Brits; many of them through residential-family connections. There are massive advantages, especially in costs, relaxing on the patio of one’s friends or family.

Although one cannot claim that local public transport in Spain’s is much above Third World standing, few tourists who have strap-hung in a Bodrum or Marmaris dolmus would claim it to be a superior form of travel. Spain’s motorway infrastructure, which opens up a rich kaleidoscope of culture, is probably the best in Europe and far superior to Turkey’s back-jolting country road surfaces.

SPANISH SMUG COMPLACENCY

Has Spain by its smug complacency and outdated nightlife couture shown itself to be the best thing that ever happened to Turkish tourism? Mr. Ertugrul Gunay, Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism may be forgiven for secretly thanking Spanish self-satisfaction. He is aiming to nearly treble the number of tourists visiting his country by 2023; the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. 

He says: “We are delighted with Turkey’s tourism successes and the continued expansion in visitor numbers to Turkey despite the economic downturn. Looking ahead, we’re confident that Turkey’s tourism industry is poised for further growth.” Perhaps Spanish tourism should give Mr.Gunay a job?

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