This year marks the official Year of Tourism of Turkey in China. The Consulate General of -Turkey in Shanghai and consulting firm PwC China held a forum recently for business people from both countries to discuss and share their opportunities.
Sabri Tunc Angili, Consul General of Turkey in Shanghai, introduced the tourism development and investment environment of his country at the event, hoping to increase mutual understanding, explore investment potential and attract more Chinese business.
Tourism is one of Turkey's pillar industries. According to Angili, the country welcomed 36 million overseas tourists in 2015. Its entire tourism -industry generated billion that year. He said that although they experienced a downturn in 2016 due to social turbulence, the country saw a strong recovery and still welcomed 32 million foreign tourists in 2017. The entire tourism industry generated billion that year.
"It shows that the Turkish tourism industry is capable of rapid recovery, which is a good sign," he said.
According to a Monday report by chinanews.com, it is predicted that 129 million outbound trips have been made in 2017, 45.8 million more than that of 2012. Angili said that, in 2017, around 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey.
Even though this was 100,000 less than the peak around 300,000 in 2015, he believes that there is room to improve tourism cooperation between the two countries, as Turkey is taking a larger share of the global tourism market. "We need to work harder to improve that," he said.
The bigger picture
Emre Coskun, general manager of Turkish Airlines Shanghai, confirmed Angili's statement about the robust growth of the country's tourism industry. He estimated that 60 million tourists are expected to visit Turkey in 2023.
Angili told the Global Times that the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has already started training programs for its hotel staff including teaching basic Chinese language.
"We are also organizing classes for Turkish tour guides to improve their Chinese language skills," he said. "I believe that Turkey and China should improve their cooperation in this respect. We will be happy to have Chinese teachers come to Turkey and teach Chinese to our personnel in the tourism sector."
As an important hub between Asia and Europe, Turkey is finally seeing the bigger picture when it comes to foreign investment and tourism. It has begun construction on what will become the largest airport in the world - in Istanbul - in terms of passenger capacity.
According to Coskun, the new airport, which will start operations this October, will have a yearly passenger capacity of 150 million.
"Istanbul will not be just a destination for Turkey or its neighbors, but also a global hub through which you can reach out much wider," Angili said.
Seeking Chinese investment
Apart from tourism, the country is also seeking cooperation and investment in sectors including energy, infrastructure, high technology, energy and e-commerce.
Angili believes that China's Belt and Road initiative will bring more cooperation opportunities for the two countries. It will help foster exchanges in terms of business, trade and culture.
He said that Turkey now has an increasing demand for energy as its economy grows. The country hopes to develop diverse energy resources, but to achieve this, it must deepen its cooperation with China, especially in solar and nuclear energies.
According to Noyan Rona, chief representative of Turkey's second largest private bank, Garanti Bank, in Shanghai, Turkey has been active in introducing foreign investment.
Yuan Wei, director of global structuring services at PwC, said Chinese companies invest in Turkey mainly through mergers and acquisition or direct investment.
Yuan agrees with Angili that both countries are very important in the global infrastructure field. Cooperation between the two countries will -produce further business opportunities.
Rona added that Turkey has a favorable investment environment thanks to friendly taxation and its sound legal system, which treats foreign investors equally and fairly.
He also believes that, thanks to its geological advantages, Turkey is the best channel through which Chinese companies could reach markets in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.