Feature: Türkiye’s cultural hub Istanbul gets ready for Chinese tourists

This photo taken on Dec. 21, 2022 shows the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Türkiye. (Xinhua/Shadati)

ISTANBUL, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Türkiye’s cultural and financial heart, Istanbul, the only city in the world spanning Europe and Asia, is preparing for the arrival of Chinese tourists.

Soon after China downgraded its COVID-19 measures on Jan. 8, easing international travel, tourism representatives in the city started discussing ways to attract more Chinese travelers with a wide range of promotional activities.

“The opening of the Chinese market is essential to us,” Murat Arslan, general manager of CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel, told Xinhua in an interview. “We know Chinese people travel a lot in Istanbul. Rather than sea, sand, and sun, they have a more cultural and gastronomic experience-oriented travel understanding,” Arslan noted.

According to Arslan, Istanbul offers a lot for Chinese tourists, including boat tours on the Bosphorus Strait flowing between the European and Asian sides; the historical peninsula of Sultanahmet; ancient palaces, churches and mosques; and a vivid nightlife with numerous restaurants and bars.

The hotel manager said travel representatives have sped up efforts to offer a unique experience to Chinese visitors to the city.

Meanwhile, Arslan’s teams are updating the hotel’s menus to introduce a wide range of Turkish delicacies.

ISTANBUL, Nov. 25, 2022 (Xinhua) — Pedestrians walk on the Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, Türkiye, Nov. 22, 2022. (Xinhua/Shadati)

“We are also considering a trip to China soon. Again, we continue to work nonstop on Turkish tourism to get a larger share of the cake from China’s market,” he said.

Ali Can Aksu, head of the Turkish Hotel Managers Association, told Xinhua that Chinese travelers are significant for global tourism.

“The entire world measures the needs of Chinese tourists and acts accordingly. It is also followed very closely by Türkiye,” Aksu said.

In Aksu’s view, the Chinese should not be perceived as tourists. They have the spirit of a traveler. “They have a different understanding of tourism and want to explore new adventures and discover new places, areas, and destinations. So, as a country, we attach great importance to them.”

According to Aksu, Türkiye’s tourism sector wants to attract 1 million travelers from China.

After hosting over 420,000 Chinese tourists in 2019, Türkiye had initially projected to attract nearly 1 million by the end of 2020. However, most activities were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are waiting for our Chinese brothers and sisters, and we intend to give them a taste of Türkiye’s vast unexplored paradise,” Aksu said. “We are doing all our preparations for them.”

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