2023 Tourist Turkey Stats: Visitor Trends

Turkey, the nation situated between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, has emerged as a renowned global destination. From bustling markets in Istanbul to the tranquil beaches of Antalya, the country is a rich tapestry of culture, history, and stunning natural landscapes.

Analyzing How Many Tourists Visit Turkey Each Year

When it comes to how many tourists visit Turkey each year, here are the most relevant statistics:

  • 2018: Turkey saw a record number of tourists, with over 45.7 million visitors.
  • 2019: There was a slight decrease due to political unrest and safety concerns, with 45.1 million tourists.
  • 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected Turkey’s tourism, with only 12.7 million visitors.
  • 2021: A remarkable recovery with approximately 29.3 million tourists.
  • 2022: Despite global travel disruptions, Turkey welcomed nearly 44.6 million international tourists.
  • 2023 (Mid-Year): Tourist arrivals are on track to surpass pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating the resilience of Turkey’s tourism industry.

Record Number of Tourists

Istanbul remains the most popular destination in Turkey, attracting a significant portion of international visitors each year. The majority of tourists visiting Turkey come from Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Historical Overview of Turkey’s Tourism Industry

As early as the 1960s, Turkey began attracting a steady influx of international visitors. The tourism industry expanded rapidly, and by the 1990s, Turkey had established itself as a popular global destination. 

Throughout the 2000s, the number of international tourist arrivals grew exponentially. Istanbul, Antalya, and Cappadocia evolved as the primary tourist hubs. Unfortunately, the 2010s witnessed some fluctuations in tourism numbers due to political unrest and safety concerns. 

But the industry proved resilient and, by 2018, was on an upward trajectory again. Despite yet another setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the industry is showing signs of strong recovery as of 2023.

Factors Driving Tourism in Turkey

Several factors contribute to the steady increase in the number of tourists visiting Turkey each year:

  • Rich History and Cultural Heritage: Turkey boasts a plethora of historical sites, from ancient ruins to Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, attracting history buffs.
  • Geographical Diversity: Its unique position straddling two continents offers a blend of Eastern and Western cultures and diverse landscapes, from Mediterranean beaches to snow-capped mountains.
  • Cuisine: Known for its kebabs, baklava, and Turkish tea, Turkey's culinary tradition entices foodies from around the world.
  • Infrastructure Improvement: Expansion of airports, improved accommodation facilities, and e-visa introduction have made travel to Turkey easier and more comfortable.
  • Affordability: Turkey is considered an affordable destination, appealing to budget travelers.

Challenges and Future Outlook for Turkey’s Tourism

Despite the increasing number of visitors, Turkey’s tourism industry also faces significant challenges:

  • Political Instability: Political instability and regional conflicts have sometimes created perceptions of insecurity, discouraging potential visitors.
  • Sustainability: Ensuring sustainable tourism that preserves natural and cultural heritage across diverse landscapes requires meticulous planning and management.
  • Climate Change: Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns may impact popular tourist spots, necessitating investment in sustainable tourism practices.

Looking forward, the prospects for Turkey’s tourism industry are promising. The Turkish government has been actively promoting tourism, with strategies like digital marketing campaigns targeting potential tourists and initiatives to diversify tourist offerings and improve visitor experiences.

Key Travel Trends in 2023

As we step into the new year, the travel industry is poised for several exciting developments and trends in 2023. Here are some key insights and predictions from industry experts:

Sustainability Takes Center Stage

Sustainability remains a top priority in the travel industry. Travelers are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, and this trend is expected to intensify in 2023. 

Hoteliers and tour operators are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and support eco-friendly initiatives. Hotels are becoming more transparent about their sustainability efforts and encouraging guests to engage with local cultures and businesses.

Expert Opinion: Bill Bensley, Hotel Designer and Architect

"Put your money where your mouth is: support those who are doing their bit to be more ecological, to combat illegal wildlife trade, to empower at-risk communities."

Meaningful Travel and Ultra-Localized Itineraries

Travelers are seeking more meaningful and immersive experiences. The desire to travel like a local has gained momentum, with conscious consumers looking to give back to local businesses and minimize their environmental impact. 

In 2023, we can expect to see a rise in "ultra-localized" itineraries that connect travelers with Indigenous and Aboriginal cultures, allowing them to understand the heritage and history of a destination.

Expert Opinion: Lily Girma, Travel Journalist

"Meaningful travel comes from interacting and learning from those who are not like us – that’s what tourism has always done best, and it’s this irreplaceable contact that the traveler is seeking."

Sustainable Tourism Integrated into Business Models

Hotels are increasingly integrating sustainable tourism into their business models. This includes partnering with local organizations to provide guests with authentic and enriching experiences while contributing to the preservation of the places they visit. 

These initiatives aim to create a deeper connection between travelers and their destinations and leave a positive impact on local communities.

Expert Opinion: Phil Hospod, CEO and Founder of Dovetail + Co

"With the growing appreciation that we are all stewards of the communities that we visit, I think we’ll see a rise in sustainable tourism that’s built into hotel business models and core guest experiences."

Low-Cost Destinations on the Rise

Inexpensive destinations like Turkey, Nepal, and Morocco are expected to gain popularity in 2023. Travelers are increasingly looking for budget-friendly options that offer unique cultural experiences and natural beauty. These destinations provide excellent value for money, making them attractive choices for budget-conscious travelers.

Technology Continues to Enhance Travel

Technology will play a pivotal role in shaping the travel experience in 2023. Mobile apps and digital platforms will provide travelers with seamless and convenient solutions for booking accommodations, planning itineraries, and accessing information about their destinations. Travel technology will continue to evolve, making travel more accessible and efficient.

Additional Travel Trends for 2023

In addition to the previously mentioned travel trends, there are several other noteworthy developments shaping the travel landscape in 2023:

Indigenous Tourism

Expert Opinion: Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director for EMEA at Intrepid Travel

Indigenous tourism is emerging as one of the fastest-growing trends in travel for 2023. Travelers are increasingly seeking sustainable and community-led experiences that not only benefit the local communities but also provide insights into traditional ways of life. 

Companies like Intrepid Travel are focusing on developing more Indigenous tourism experiences, particularly in regions like the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Examples of such experiences include visiting an indigenous Shaman in a Maya village in Guatemala, spending time with matriarchal Terraba communities in Costa Rica, and guided walks through natural parks with First Nations guides.

Tourism Levies

Expert Opinion: Jenny Southan, Founder of Globetrender

As travel rebounds from the pandemic, there is growing concern about the issue of over-tourism in popular destinations. To address this, some places are considering implementing tourism levies or entry fees for day-trippers.

 For instance, Venice plans to charge day-trippers an entry fee, while Bhutan has already introduced a nightly 'Sustainable Development Fee.' This trend may continue in 2023, with other destinations like Valencia, Thailand, Manchester, and Wales considering similar measures to manage tourist inflows.

Low-Cost Destinations in the Face of Economic Challenges

Economists are predicting a global recession in 2023, and many people are facing a cost-of-living crisis. As a result, travelers are expected to seek out low-cost destinations to make their trips financially viable. 

Expensive cities like New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong may become less accessible to budget-conscious travelers, leading to increased interest in affordable destinations. Some of the destinations expected to rise in popularity in 2023 due to their affordability include Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, India, Nepal, Bolivia, South Africa, Mexico, and Morocco.

As travelers adapt to economic challenges and prioritize sustainable and meaningful experiences, the travel industry will continue to evolve to meet these changing preferences and demands.

Price-Driven Travel

Expert Opinion: Laura Lindsay, Global Trends and Destination Expert at Skyscanner

Price-driven travel is expected to take center stage in 2023. Travelers will prioritize finding cost-effective options, whether it's exploring emerging destinations with great value, blending work and leisure during trips, or participating in budget-friendly activities. 

After the pandemic, people are eager to make up for lost time and are looking for experiences that connect them with nature and promote well-being. Travelers are becoming more conscious of their discretionary spending and are looking to make informed decisions.

Quality Over Quantity

Expert Opinion: Ernest Lee, Chief Growth Officer at citizenM Hotels

In 2023, there will be a focus on quality over quantity in the hospitality industry. After the neglect of some hotels during the pandemic and the surge in pent-up demand, guests are becoming less tolerant of poor building quality. 

Hotels that invest in maintaining and upgrading their properties will be better positioned to meet the expectations of travelers who are seeking high-quality accommodations.

Evolving Travel Technology

Expert Opinion: Michael Parker, Co-founder and CEO of ROADBOOK

The year 2023 will witness an evolution in travel app technology. With changing travel demands, including nomadism, sustainable travel, and longer stays, travel apps will need to provide a more seamless user experience across the entire trip booking process. 

This includes better integration of rewards, loyalty programs, itinerary management, and trip planning. Travelers will become more demanding of technology that offers curated travel experiences and simplifies complex trip planning.

Transformational Experiences

Expert Opinion: Emma Westman, Communications Director at Black Diamond

Travelers are increasingly seeking transformational experiences in 2023. Beyond traditional wellness retreats, people are looking for opportunities to create lasting positive impacts from within. 

This trend includes experiences like fasting retreats, mushroom supper clubs, and ecstatic dance ceremonies. These immersive experiences are becoming more accessible to travelers, allowing them to unlock their subconscious and return home with a sense of enlightenment.

Art and Cultural Festivals

Expert Opinion: Jon Gieselman, President of Brands at Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo

Culture-rich cities and destinations hosting art and cultural festivals are expected to see increased traveler interest in 2023. Travelers are seeking experiences beyond the traditional beach and mountain destinations. 

Festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland, WorldPride in Sydney, and cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo are attracting travelers looking for cultural richness and vibrant festivities.

Younger Luxury Travelers

Expert Opinion: Vlad Doronin, Chairman and CEO of the Aman Group

Luxury travelers are getting younger, and they value travel experiences that offer memorable moments. These younger generations see luxury as a lifestyle and invest in travel that aligns with their values. 

This demand for unique experiences has led to the creation of new hotel brands like Janu, designed to bring like-minded people together in beautifully designed spaces. This trend is expected to continue, with younger travelers representing a significant portion of the global luxury market.


In conclusion, despite the challenges, the future outlook for Turkey’s tourism industry remains positive. If current trends continue and challenges are effectively addressed, Turkey’s position as a top global tourist destination seems likely to strengthen in the years to come. 

So, there you have it, that’s how many tourists visit Turkey each year! We hope this article has been informative and sheds light on Turkey’s tourism industry. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, feel free to reach out to us through our contact page. We always appreciate hearing from our readers and value your feedback!


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