Every year, the number of the Arab tourists visiting Istanbul is increasing. Also during the month of fasting, Ramadan. Last year a 20 percent rise in Arab tourists during the holy month was seen compared to the previous year and this year even more are expected.
The “Ramadan in Istanbul” international project, organized to overcome the recession during Ramadan, and “Ramadan Istanbul,” the combination of art, culture and world cuisine events, are thought to have contributed to the rise in numbers, with the support of the 2010 European Cultural Capital Agency.
Istanbul Culture and Tourism Directorate’s data show that 50,000 Arab tourists visited Istanbul in the Ramadan of 2010, however last year the figure rose to 62,000. Meanwhile, in the first six months of this year a drastic increase (71.2 percent) of the number of Arab tourists was also seen.
While the first half of 2011 hosted 346,598 Arab visitors in Turkey, in the same time period this year the numbers went up to 593,423. In 2009, Arab tourists held a 9.3 percent share in the total number of tourists, this percentage increased to 10 percent in 2010 and 11 percent in 2011, while the percentage was 14 percent from January to June 2012. In the first half of this year, out of a total number of 4,231,419 foreign tourists visiting Istanbul, 593,423 were Arabs.
They come to see the tourist top attractions like the former sultan’s palaces, the Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, and other sultan’s mosques, shop in the modern shopping malls and dine in the best restaurants. They also want to see the places where the Turkish soap operas were filmed. Turkish soap operas are hugely popular in the Arab world.