“Tourism is booming” – Turkiye’s Finance Minister Şimşek confirms country’s best ever July visitor figures

Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek took to social media to share the good news that over 7 million tourists entered Turkiye last month, making it the best July on record for foreign visitors.

The significant increase in visitor numbers isn’t just good news for Turkiye’s tourism sector, it also has an important bearing on the country’s economic health, as Minister Şimşek explained on X, formerly known as Twitter:

“Tourism is booming!  Türkiye welcomes a remarkable 7.1 million foreign visitors in one month, marking the best July in history!

“Türkiye’s current account deficit is expected to shrink significantly (from a 12-month rolling deficit of $56 billion in June to around $40 billion in December) thanks to a slowdown in consumer loan growth and a sharp rise in tourism revenues. This is supportive of a more stable Lira.”

According to data from the Turkish Tourism Ministry, foreign tourist arrivals are up by 7.3% from 2022. The same data showed more than 30 million tourists have visited the country since the start of the year, marking an increase of 16.2% from the previous year. The data suggests that 2023 is on track for becoming Turkiye’s best ever for the number of holidaymakers it hosts.

The make-up of Turkiye’s 30 million tourists in 2023 is that most – 26.8 million to be precise – are foreign nationals, while 3.3 million are Turkish citizens who live abroad, but have come to Turkiye for a vacation.

The tourism boom comes at a time when the country is still grappling with high levels of inflation, annually around 85%, and continued depreciation of the Turkish lira, which currently stands at over 33 TL to the pound, and 26 TL to the dollar.

Last week, Turkiye’s Central Bank raised interest rates by a whopping 7.5% to 25%, exceeding what many economists had been expecting.

The move shows the Central Bank’s intent to combat high inflation, as noted in its statement relating to its latest interest rate increase on 24 August:

“The Committee decided to continue the monetary tightening process in order to establish the disinflation course as soon as possible, to anchor inflation expectations, and to control the deterioration in pricing behaviour.”

“Recent indicators point to a continued increase in the underlying trend of inflation,” the bank said, pointing to wages, exchange rates, and rise in oil prices as some of the factors impacting on the country’s inflation.

“The policy rate will be determined in a way that will create monetary and financial conditions necessary to ensure a decline in the underlying trend of inflation and to reach the 5 percent inflation target in the medium term. Monetary tightening will be further strengthened as much as needed in a timely and gradual manner until a significant improvement in the inflation outlook is achieved,” the Central Bank added.

Main image, top, of tourists enjoying leisure time on a beach in Antalya, Türkiye, Aug. 9, 2023. Photo © Xinhua/Shutterstock (14048509b)