Turkey sees record tourist numbers this year

Turkey expects to attract a record number of tourists this year, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said.

The government forecasts that more than 40 million tourists will have visited the country by the end of the year, Ersoy said on Monday, according to Milliyet newspaper.

Early reservations for 2019 are well above this year’s figures, he said, adding that Turkey expects a much better season in 2019.

While tourism numbers in Turkey are increasing, revenue has changed little because expenditure per person is declining. Income from tourism rose an annual 1 percent to $11.5 billion in the third quarter even as the number of foreign visitors climbed 12.7 percent to 18.8 million, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Oct. 31.  

The lira has lost almost a third of its value against the dollar this year, making goods and services in the country cheaper for visitors from abroad. The country needs tourism revenues to finance its current account deficit, which had reached 6.5 percent in the summer months, and to boost economic growth. While the current account deficit is now narrowing sharply due to a slump in imports, economists say the economy is expected to contract.