US, China visitors give Turkish tourism a boost

A general view of the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport.A general view of the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport.ISTANBUL, Feb 23 — United Airlines has announced the addition of new flights between the US and Turkey, becoming the second major carrier to do so within a week.

The airline said February 21 that it will launch daily flights between New York and Istanbul from this summer, making Istanbul the 76th international destination from its Newark-based hub.

The flights, departing Newark Liberty, are set to begin July 1 — by which point a competing service offered by Turkish Airlines will already be operating.

The airline, Turkey’s flag-carrier, announced last week that it will expand its services between Istanbul and New York’s JFK to three times daily from May 2012, citing ‘strong demand’ for seats between the two cities.

Although Germany and Russia account for by far the most visits to Turkey, visitors from the US are steadily growing in numbers, up 30 per cent last year according to reports.

The total number of tourists to the country was 31 million last year, Turkish government figures revealed last month, triple the 10.4 million visitors that arrived in 2001, a decade earlier.

But although American visitors are showing increased interest in the country, they may soon be eclipsed by visitors from China.

As the result of increasing links between the countries, which share strong historical ties thanks to their position at either end of the Silk Road, the number of Chinese visitors to Turkey surpassed 70,000 last year, up 20 per cent on the year before, reports the China Daily.

This year, the country is celebrating the 2012 Year of China in Turkey, with events throughout 2012 featuring literature, arts, cultural legacy, films, education, acrobatics and puppetry from China. — AFP/Relaxnews



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