Özgür Aytürk has been the Culture and Tourism Counsellor of the Turkish Embassy in India for one month now. He shares with us how he plans to promote Turkey as a holiday destination for the Indian traveller and a few unexplored locations for the intrepid traveller.
How long have you been in India and what are your plans in terms of increasing tourism to Turkey from India?
I have been in India for a month now. We are in the midst of finalizing our campaigns and promotions for this year, which would include a pan-India media campaign, consumer promotions and joint promotions with leading tour operators.
What were your previous assignments and how important is the Indian tourism market for Turkey?
My previous assignment was with Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. India is a special and growing market. From 20000 Indian visitors in the year 2007 to 60000 Indian visitors in year 2010, Indian arrivals to Turkey have been growing at a rate of 12%.
What are the choices for a repeat traveler who has already visited Istanbul, the Aegean coast and Cappadocia?
Travellers can also have amazing trips to the Black Sea region, Southeastern Anatolia and Eastern Anatolia. There are in fact numerous destinations I can recommend, but let me give one or two samples for the readers.
In Southeastern Anatolia, Mount Nemrut is one of the best options for travellers where you can see the huge statues of lions, eagles and the old gods of Greeks and Persians, which were built by the king of the Commagene Kingdom, Antiochus I in 62 BC. Mount Nemrut, which is on the list of UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites in Turkey, is also known as the best place in the world where people can get the most beautiful view of sunrise and sunset. There are 8 more cultural and natural heritage sites like Mount Nemrut in different regions of Turkey and each one is worth spending at least a couple of days.
My second recommendation would be the city Van in Eastern Anatolia. Our Ministry is now promoting Van intensively by arranging some special events and festivals. You can trace the signs of the civilizations back to 4000 BC in Van, and it was also the capital of the Urartians. People can visit Van Castle which was built by the Urartians in the 9th Century BC near Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey.
What according to you is the ideal number of days to spend in Turkey for diverse holiday experiences?
An ideal vacation in Turkey can be enjoyed in a trip of 7 to 10 days in which one can see historical sites of Istanbul, enjoy sun and sand at Antalya, visit the natural wonders of Cappadocia and experience the nightlife of Bodrum or Izmir.
What are your views on Namaste Turkey (www.namasteturkey.com), a dedicated website for the Indian outbound traveller?
It is very suggestive and I must say that I was very surprised by seeing an amazing promotion of Turkey in India! We really appreciate the effort and we look forward to collaborating on many such products in the near future.
What is your message to the readers?
India is a very special country with which Turkey has very warm and cordial relations based on historical and cultural links. It is also one of the important emerging markets for Turkey. In my endeavour to make Turkey a popular destination with Indian travellers, I am looking forward to my time in India and building lasting relationships.