Turkey hits record tourism revenue in 2023, official data shows

Despite Turkey’s record-breaking tourism revenue of 54.3 billion dollars in 2023, official figures fell around 1.3 billion dollars below Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek’s expectations.

Duvar English

Turkey’s tourism income surged by 17% to an all-time high of 54.3 billion dollars in 2023, surpassing the previous record of 46.48 billion dollars set in 2022, figures released on Jan. 31 by state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, revenues stood at 38.4 billion dollars.

The total number of visitors to Turkey in 2023 grew to 57.1 million, an 11.1 percent increase compared to 2022. These figures include both foreigners and Turkish citizenship holders abroad, with the latter group accounting for 7.7 million visitors.

Russia and Europe spearheaded foreign arrivals. Russians topped the list with 6.3 million, making up 12.8% of all visitors, an increase of 20.7% compared to 2022. Visitors from Germany came in second, with 6.2 million, a 9% increase compared to the previous year.

Over 11 million residents from Turkey visited abroad, according to TÜİK’s numbers, with an average expenditure of 639 dollars per capita.

This is a remarkable 52.3% growth compared to the previous year, as a recent TÜİK report revealed that a one-week annual holiday away from home was unaffordable for 58.8% of households in Turkey in 2023.

82.3 million visitors in 2028

According to Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Turkey achieved its best tourism performance ever in 2023.

However, despite surpassing visitor expectations, the total tourism revenue fell short, reaching below the targeted 55.6 billion dollars by approximately 1.3 billion dollars, Şimşek wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Jan. 31.

In an edited version of the post, Şimşek deleted the part where he said the revenue remained below their target and only said "Tourism income amounted to 54.3 billion dollars."

‘’We expect the number of visitors to increase to 59.4 million this year and tourism revenue to 59.6 billion dollars, continuing the strong trend in tourism,’’ Şimşek said, adding that their aim for 2028 is to achieve 82.3 million visitors and 100 billion dollars in tourism revenue.

Amid heavy currency depreciation and skyrocketing inflation, foreign tourism is considered a critical source for Turkey to curb its current account deficit.

(English version by Wouter Massink)