After two and a half years of lackluster numbers, resulting from the COVID slump and strict border curbs which discouraged millions of tourists from visiting, Turkey (alternatively called Turkiye) is exploding in popularity like never before.
Having already posted a strong recovery rate last year, it is set to become one of the busiest summer destinations in 2023.
Located at the crossroads of two continents – Europe and Asia – and straddling both the Black and Mediterranean Seas, Turkey is one of the most intriguing countries in the world.
A cultural melting pot where influences range from late Byzantine to Indo-Anatolian, and of course, Ottoman, it has been an object of fascination for Historians and visitors alike for centuries.
Now, it could well shatter its own pre-established tourism records.
If you’re heading to the Turkish Republic this year, this is what you should expect to find:
Turkey Expecting A Record-Breaking Summer
Following a rocky start to the year, which has been marred by the unusually high inflation rate and a tragic earthquake in Eastern Turkey, the country is seemingly back on its feet and ready to compete not only on a European or Middle Eastern but global level.
As reported by Norbert Fiebiq, head of the German Travel Association (DRV), Turkey is ‘very much in demand’, with a ‘huge increase’ in bookings in recent months.
Now that fears over new potential earthquakes have subsided, ‘the turnover is increasing week by week‘.
Germany is one of the biggest and most important markets for the local tourism sector, contributing hundreds of millions of euros every year, but Germans are not the only foreign nationals obsessed with Turkey at the minute.
Upward booking trends were also noted across other nationalities as well, including the U.S.
When it comes to the United States, 337,000 Americans landed in the sunny hub in the first half of 2022 alone, making it one of the most popular Eastern European and Middle Eastern destinations for U.S. citizens last year.
That number could increase exponentially in 2023 now that new flight routes between the mainland U.S. and Istanbul, the number one tourist destination in Turkey, have been added.
In other words, Turkey will be a lot busier than usual this summer, and you should definitely expect more crowds. But that’s not the only caveat:
What Will Visiting Turkey In Summer 2023 Potentially Feel Like?
It Will Be Busier Than Before
Turkey remained sealed off from the outside world for most of 2020 and 2021, as the national government clamped down hard on COVID and enacted a number of draconian policies aimed at keeping the virus out, such as banning entry to non-vaccinated Americans and implementing a testing regime.
Needless to say, the number of visitors to Turkey plummeted in that period until the local Health Ministry took a U-turn and decided it was time to treat the virus as endemic.
Turkey would eventually lift its remaining border curbs, and demand would naturally surge in response.
Visiting this summer, you are extremely unlikely to have some of the country’s most iconic points of interest, including the ancient Byzantine cathedral-turned-mosque Hagia Sophia and the Greco-Roman ruins in Ephesus, all to yourself, as became customary in the pandemic era.
The crowds are back, and long wait lines are the norm once again as tourists flock to Turkey’s world-famous sights to witness their grandeur firsthand.
When visiting Istanbul in particular, you are advised to book tickets in advance for a number of attractions as ticketing queues could be hours-long.
Besides the influx of visitors, you should note Turkey is no longer as cheap as it once was.
While it is still one of the most affordable mainstream destinations out there, inflation is taking its toll on Turkish society and hitting the pockets of budget-conscious tourists harder.
Naturally, any increase in demand amid a limited offer inevitably leads to price escalations, as seen last year across most of Western Europe.
Now, it is still improbable Turkey will follow in the footsteps of competing Mediterranean power Croatia, where prices have truly skyrocketed, as it is neither in the Eurozone nor tied to the Brussels economics, but tourist dollars may not buy as many Turkish liras as it would have been possible three to four years back.
That’s not due to the lira’s appreciation over the dollar also: in fact, the Turkish currency is still at one of its lowest points since records began.
There is another reason behind the local market’s volatile pricing:
The cost of living in Turkey is rising as a result of the crippling inflation (now stationary at 55.18% after reaching dangerous highs of 85.51% last December), the War in Ukraine, which forced thousands of Russians to escape the harsh realities at home into Turkey, impacting the real estate market by pushing prices up and adding pressure to the housing crisis, and the country’s own decade-long economic downturn.
And, Of Course, Politics
Turkey has faced one of its most harrowing tragedies in recent memory this year, when an earthquake struck the Hatay Province claiming the lives of over 41,000 citizens.
As if that weren’t enough to throw the country off-balance, the elections are coming, and they are set to represent one of the most polarizing and defining moments in Turkish History.
On May 14, in the lead-up to summer, Turks will decide whether long-serving President Erdogan remains in power, following his much-criticized economic policies and poor response to the earthquake, or the opposition will take the reins.
The effects of Turkey’s election will be felt across the country for months, and the overall political climate could be tense as current President Erdogan attempts to cling on to power.
Politics don’t tend to affect tourists directly, though they most certainly can: recently, Machu Picchu in Peru was closed down due to widespread civil unrest and political demonstrations that swept the country, while airports also suspended flights and tourism came again to a standstill, even if temporarily.
We’re not saying this will be the case in Turkey – most likely, the elections will take place without greater disturbances – but it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan in case things do get out of hand, especially when flights are canceled due to strikes or nationwide protests. Much like Paris.
For that reason, ahead of flying, make sure you take out travel insurance covering travel disruption and interruption, as well as illness and other incidents, ahead of boarding your flight.
It may no longer be an official requirement, but it remains one of the best and easiest preventive measures when unforeseen circumstances arise.
Find out more here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com