Pergamon Ancient City, Turkiye. [Photo provided to]

Turkiye aims to welcome one million Chinese tourists in 2024 as deeming China a priority market, head of the local tourism promotion agency said at ITB China, a B2B trade show dedicated to the Chinese travel market held in Shanghai last month.

According to Ismail Butun (İsmail Bütün), general manager of Turkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), the country welcomed 56.7 million international visitors in 2023, with a 10 percent increase year-on-year.

Compared with Turkiye's largest source of tourists, Russia, which contributed 6.31 million tourists to Turkiye in 2023, the number of Chinese tourists last year reached 248,119.

Cappadocia, Turkiye. [Photo provided to]

However, in the first quarter of 2024, Chinese tourist volume increased by 148 percent year-on-year by hosting 77,451, Butun said.

"As the Chinese government included Turkiye in the list of countries where group travel can be made as of August 2023, tourism traffic between the two countries began to increase rapidly," said Butun, "We are going to hit our targets - reaching one million visitors from China - in the near future."

Butun further pointed out that China is a priority market for Turkiye, and TGA has tailored marketing initiatives for Chinese tourists based on their characteristics.

Antalya, Turkiye. [Photo provided to]

He explained that Chinese visitors used to determine their travel preferences by visiting famous places, while today's Chinese travelers are not merely interested in ticking off bucket-list destinations, instead, they prefer experience-oriented travel, exploring historical and cultural sites and natural attractions.

"We have a very multicultural environment in Turkiye, which is attractive to Chinese tourists. They like the unique experiences we are offering, like the hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, and they also like Turkish food," Butun said.

"We are trying to understand more and more Chinese tourists' expectations, inviting tourist agents to Turkiye as part of familiarisation trips so they will understand what can be offered to Chinese travelers, and organizing fam trips for professionals to show Turkiye's diverse offerings in addition to launching specific campaigns for the market," he added.

Ortaköy Mosque, Istanbul. [Photo provided to]

In addition to highlighting the tailored Chinese services in Turkiye's major airports, Butun said that TGA will launch a WeChat applet for GoTürkiye, the tourism brand of Turkiye.