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Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Istanbul, European capital of culture 2010


Istanbul was designated as European capital of culture 2010, together with Pecs in Hungary and Essen in Germany. Euromonitor International’s Angelo Rossini investigates its potential.
Istanbul is Turkey largest city with a strong historical and cultural heritage due to it being the ancient capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
Moreover, it is Turkey’s economic and financial hub, hosting important trade events and attracting significant MICE tourism. Istanbul was the second most popular destination in Turkey for international arrivals in 2009, after Antalya.
Healthy tourism growth
The designation of Istanbul as European capital of culture by the European Union puts the Turkish metropolis under the spotlight, with expectations for strong tourism growth not only to the city itself, but to Turkey as a whole.
After recording two-digit growth in the pre-crisis years, Turkey managed to even record positive growth in 2009, despite the global economic recession, although at a much lower rate of 1.2%.
Istanbul outperforms the national average
The performance of Istanbul was even stronger than the national Turkish average for cities in 2009, recording 7% growth in international arrivals. The designation of European capital of culture is likely to boost performance, thanks to a large international promotional campaign and the many shows and events scheduled in the city in 2010.
The Turkish ministry of tourism is aiming for 10 million visitors to Istanbul over the course of the year, representing a 25% increase on 2009.
International arrivals to Turkish cities  - '000 people

% growth

Source: Euromonitor International                                        
Note: Includes all international visitors, not just point of entry arrivals
A modern European city
Over 500 events will take place in Istanbul over 2010. Many of them will share the common theme of highlighting the importance of Turkish culture for Europe over the centuries and support the Turkish candidacy to join the European Union. Other events will focus on Islamic traditions and the historical role of Istanbul as a bridge between East and West.
The accolade of capital of culture was the driving force of substantial investments in renovating the city’s infrastructure, as well as some of its most important tourist attractions such as Hagia Sofia.  
Several urban projects for modernisation are being implemented at the same time as cultural projects, which will also help establish the image of Istanbul as a modern European city with a glorious past.
Apart from its impressive attractions, Istanbul boasts many strengths including shopping (the city’s Grand Bazaar is one of the largest shopping areas in the world), spas in the hammam tradition, nightlife and a value for money positioning, which helped mitigate the effects of the global recession.
Ambitious “2023 Tourism vision plan”
Istanbul European capital of culture 2010 holds a particular importance in the “2023 Tourism vision plan” of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism.
Turkey aims to be the fifth largest destination for international arrivals world-wide by 2023, up three places from its current ranking, challenging leading destinations such as Spain, Italy and China.
In order to meet this target, growth in cultural tourism, especially to Istanbul, and beach tourism to Antalya will be necessary.
The 2010 event will help Istanbul gain international exposure and build on its reputation as the destination with a unique crossroad of cultures.

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  • Turkey 2010- Guaranteed tour departures all year

    Fez Travel is based in Istanbul at the heart of all the action. All Istanbul packages and Turkey tours can be extended to allow time to enjoy any of the 2010 events planned for Istanbul and all advertised tours are guaranteed departures all year round, so no risks to you or your clients. Check out the options at

    By Vanessa Wallace-Kaplan, Thursday, February 25, 2010

  • Specialised packages for Istanbul 2010

    Since last November IAH have been offering special packages for the Istanbul European city of culture 2010 - have a look at Like all the European Capital of Culture events Istanbul will prove most interesting and educative. This site is tasked to guide and assist as well as offering packages that will incentivise agents

    By Tom Berny, Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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