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Published On: Mon, Mar 30th, 2020

A new alternative revenue source for Turkey… Gastronomy Tourism

In simple words, Gastronomic Tourism is about visits people make to places to taste, eat and enjoy local food and beverages.

Turkey is a country in desperate need of additional foreign revenues to balance its foreign trade deficit. Despite the quite pleasing increase in export revenues, the almost uncontrollable rise in import figures requires Turkey to evaluate every single prospective source of revenue to come into the country.

Tourism in this regard has been a life-saver for the country for many decades – even if to a certain extent – by contributing to the economy. The major fall in tourism revenues in 2016 due to some issues incurred both on the international level (the conflict with Russia) and locally, (terrorism and the failed coup attempt in the country) seem to have been left behind, now. Consequently, the tourism revenues which dropped to USD 22.1 billion in 2016 with a 29.7 percent decrease compared to 2015. The good news is revenues jumped by 37.6 percent year-on-year to USD 11.4 billion in the third quarter of 2017, with 77 percent of this income coming from foreign visitors and 23 percent coming from citizens resident abroad and the forecast is Turkey could close the year with a tourism revenue figure around USD 30 billion.

Still, the experts in the industry strongly believe Turkey’s potential in this sector is much more than targeted (and achieved) and with the aid of alternative tourism activities the country could enjoy higher revenues.

Among referred alternatives we can certainly name health tourism which has recently drawn much attention in the country as an important alternative to contribute to foreign trade deficit and the administration is now well aware of this opportunity.

On the other hand there is another kind of tourism which is considered to be quite new for Turkey which could surely offer the country great opportunities as well; Gastronomy Tourism.

In simple words, Gastronomic Tourism is about visits people make to places
to taste, eat and enjoy local food and beverages.

Also referred to as “Kitchen Tourism”, this sector tends to be a major domestic tourist activity; with consumers traveling to places where they can taste and have local food and wine etc. It was reported by a reliable establishment that almost as much as 18 percent of leisure people traveling for leisure in USA were interested in culinary related activities. This figure corresponds to tens of millions and is expected to increase rapidly in coming years.

Just to provide some figures to show the importance of the sector we can name UK for instance where this food tourism is estimated to be worth about $ 8 billion every year.

When “Food and Beverage Festivals” are in question, the decision to travel is taken according to the gastronomic experiences offered at the destination. However, the sector still has a long way to go as we can see in the example that it is estimated there is not more than one million international gastronomy (culinary) tourists who travel on this purpose in Europe every year.

As for the growth potential, the method to use is to combine gastronomic tours with other activities such as cultural tours, cycling, walking etc. to make them appeal to a broader range of consumers.

It is expected that the niche market will grows strong over the next 5-10 years and Turkey obviously has a lot to offer thanks to its incredible kitchen, provided required organization is secured and necessary promotion on the int’l level is carried out. (12.12.2017)

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