Some 2.5 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, making the country the top destination for Iranian holidaymakers, according to a report published by the Hotel Association of Turkey (TÜROB).
The number of Iranian tourists visiting Turkey is expected to continue rising this year, the report said, adding that Turkey may see a strong rise in visits by Iranians particularly in March during the Nevruz holiday in Iran.
Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Armenia followed Turkey as most popular destinations for Iranians last year.
In 2016, a total of 1.7 million Iranian tourists spent their holidays in Turkey.
The report noted that Iranians on average spend six nights in Turkey and spend $1,000 per person versus $630 other foreign tourists spend per capita.
Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, the eastern province of Van and the southern province of Antalya are the most popular destinations for Iranian vacationers, according to the report.
Iranians visit Turkey also for shopping and business purposes.
The banking system in Iran is not fully compatible with that of Turkey, which discourages some Iranians from travelling to Turkey, TÜROB also said in the report.
Since credit cards are not used in Iran, Iranian tourists have to carry considerable amount of cash with them when they travel, the report noted, adding that this limits their expenditure.
TÜROB proposed the introduction of DEBIT cards as a solution to the problem. “Iranians can easily make their payments with DEBIT cards if this payment system is put in place,” the association said.
The number of foreign arrivals in Turkey rose to 32.4 million in 2017 with a 27.8 percent year-on-year increase, data from the Tourism Ministry showed on Jan. 31.
Russia became the top tourist market of Turkey in 2017 with a 14.6 percent share in total arrivals, according to the ministry data. Russia was followed by Germany with nearly 3.6 million visitors and an 11.1 percent share in the total arrivals. Iran became the third market for Turkey’s tourism sector, as 2.5 million Iranians visited Turkey last year. Iran took a 7.7 percent share in total arrivals.