Turkey’s visitor numbers from North America continue on an upward path. That’s not surprising to specialists in that market.
“Turkey is a top destination for luxury travelers who require excellent hotels and fascinating touring. Also, the people are wonderful and incredibly friendly, welcoming and worldly,” Ashley Ganz, owner of Artisans of Leisure in New York, NY, tells Travel Agent.
Ganz’ company offer a number of private luxury tours of the country. Among them: “Turkey in Style,” a ten-day trip that includes Istanbul, Ephesus and the ancient harbor town of Bodrum.
“Touring there appeals to all types of travelers, from history buffs who are fascinated by Istanbul’s layers of history; art and design fans who love the exquisite tilework and contemporary art museums and galleries; foodies who can enjoy one of the world's most delicious cuisines; and shoppers who love the bazaars, antiques districts and sophisticated boutiques,” Ganz added.
Alex Datsev, custom travel manager for Exeter International in Tampa, FL, says the country’s diversity is one of its prime attractions.
“You have to realize that Turkey is huge and travel brings the visitor so many different perspectives. Everyone needs to spend three or four days in Istanbul for the culture, the scenery and the great food. They’re introducing new restaurant concepts that offer a twist on traditional Ottoman cuisine,” said Datsev.
David Rubin is particularly enthusiastic about Istanbul’s hotel scene. Rubin is CEO, travel consultant and general counsel for DavidTravel in Corona del Mar, CA.
“There’s quite an exciting and vibrant hotel scene in Istanbul. There are three very high-end new hotels that are stunning. One is the new Raffles Istanbul, which is in a luxury shopping mall that also houses the largest performing arts center in Turkey. The new St. Regis Istanbul is in another high-end shopping area. The overall design of hotel is wonderful. It’s a nod to 1920s and Art Deco. And the Soho House Istanbul is next to the former U.S. Consulate building. There’s a private member-only club in the consulate and Soho guests have access to it,” said Rubin.
Beyond Istanbul, the lunar-like landscape of Cappadocia is the most well-known destination. It’s a one-hour flight away.
“The region has a very unique landscape. It’s almost a moonscape of volcanic limestone rock that has been eroded by wind and rain. Archaeologists to this day are still discovering churches and underground cities that were hiding places for early Christians. There are cave hotels there which offer a once-in-a-lifetime setting. Early-morning hot air balloons over the rock formations are very popular as well,” said Datsev.
Ganz says her family clients particularly enjoy resorts on the Bosphorus during the summer months.
“There are also beautiful coastal resorts that nicely complement the cultural touring in Istanbul and elsewhere,” said Ganz.
Kusadasi and the well-preserved ruins at Ephesus are additional destinations popular with North Americans. During the summer, thousands of cruise ship passengers visit the two locations.
“The cruise ships have many people noticing Turkey for the first time. Turkish Airlines has also been brilliant in repositioning itself and expanding its market from North America. And the Tourism Board has done a very good job of showing how wonderful the country is as a destination. The net result is that more people are calling to ask about Turkey,” said Rubin.
“Our clients love Turkey for its wonderful mix of old and new; east and west. It’s a country at a crossroads. It’s stylish and chic, fun and exotic at the same time” he added.
Datsev notes another big selling point.
“In Turkey, they love Americans.”