‘Istanbul is a colossal destination for Indian youth interested in music’
H E Dr Burak Akçapar, ambassador of the Republic of Turkey talks about the growing interest in Turkey among Indian travellers, the need for increasing connectivity to India and potential of Istanbul as a tourist destination By Archana Sharma
How is Turkey emerging as a global destination and how has the demand been from the India market?
Turkey is one of the leading countries in tourism globally and we receive more than 30 million tourists every year. The number of tourists from India to Turkey have been increasing at about 20 per cent year-on-year for the past three years. The number of visa applications have increased by 50 per cent indicating the growing interest of Turkey as a tourism destination. We are looking at increasing the number of flights to Turkey. Presently, there are only single daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai and they are running in almost full capacity. These flights are no longer enough with the current traffic. Hence we have requested for opening new routes to important cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Amritsar, Ahmadabad, Kolkata, etc.
How can Turkey be positioned as a destination for a diverse segment of travellers?
It is a bridge, an amalgamation point of not just the East and West but also the North and South. Turkey can promote itself as a destination for weddings, MICE, leisure and even divide itself further for culture and heritage. We are planning to bring a cultural troupe from Northern Turkey for the national day celebrations in order to create more awareness of their folklore and cultural offerings.
What potential tourism products does Istanbul have to offer to the Indian traveller?
Istanbul is a colossal destination for any Indian youth interested in pop, rock, jazz or contemporary music. Also, it is a cradle for a number of civilisations over the ages, as it is a cultural and heritage hub for generations and centuries. Every civilisation leaves something behind, like the Roman or Byzantine empires and Turks have preserved them over the ages. There are other cities in Turkey that are gaining popularity amongst Indians as a heritage spot. Cappadocia being the most popular at present. I have also invited Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, to visit Turkey to observe the entire spectrum of economic and commercial relations between the two countries.