Turkey tourism, Hagia Sophia

Arrival of foreign tourists to Istanbul grows by 136%

Although the tourism sector in Turkey foresees a recovery due to the end of the pandemic, the impact of the war in Ukraine is worrying.

Istanbul received during the first three months of 2022 a flow of foreign tourists that represented an increase of 136% when compared to the data of the first quarter of 2021, according to the most recent data released by the Directorate of Culture and Tourism of Istanbul this very week.

According to these data, between January and March of this year some 2.9 million visitors from outside Turkey came to the Bosphorus metropolis, a number 1.2 million higher than the number of foreign visitors received by the city in the same period of the last year. This, in turn, produced an occupancy rate in Istanbul hotels that reached between 80 and 90% of their hotel capacity.

In March alone, around 1.2 million foreign tourists came to Turkey to visit Istanbul, up from 546,000 in March last year. In January and February, Istanbul welcomed 792,000 and 957,000 tourists, respectively, compared to 335,000 and 350,000 who had visited the city in January and February 2021.

By nationality, Russians topped the list of foreign tourists who travelled to Istanbul in the first quarter of 2022, when around 258,000 citizens from Russia visited the city, 37% more than in the same period of the previous year. The following positions in the ranking are held by Iranians (253,000, 113% more), Germans (226,000, 165% more), French (110,000, 188% more) and British (107,000, 700% more).

These good data on the arrival of foreign tourists in Istanbul come precisely at a time when the tourism sector in Turkey is expecting a good season as the end of the pandemic seems to be closer; however, the impact that the war in Ukraine may have is especially worrying among Turkish tourism entrepreneurs, given that both Russians and Ukrainians have been the main source of foreign tourists in the country in recent years.