Turkey is fast becoming the most sought-after holiday destination for Serbs, according to the Turkish ambassador to Belgrade, who said that arrivals from the Balkan nation had surged 85% compared to previous years.
“We foresee the number of tourists coming from Serbia to Turkey exceeding the 300,000 (annually) thresholds. In the medium term, we’re going to reach 500,000 and in the long term, and this number will reach 1 million,” Hami Aksoy said at a major sectoral event in Belgrade on Thursday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) at the 43rd Belgrade International Tourism Fair, Aksoy said that amid the swell in tourism, flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) could help further boost travel by starting direct flights between Serbia’s capital and the resort city of Antalya in southern Turkey.”Turkish Airlines has close relations with Serbia’s national airline, AirSerbia. Together, we aim to increase bilateral flights.”
More than 40 local travel agencies and others based in different countries participated in the tourism fair, which took place on Thursday under the title “Between the Mountains and the Sea.”
Turkey is one of the major participants at the Belgrade Tourism Fair, which ranks as the largest tourist event in Southeast Europe with more than 50 companies and over 120 people, including a business delegation from the capital Ankara.
Boosting tourism and airlines
Taking place simultaneously with the Belgrade Tourism Fair, the Food Service Industry Fair HORECA also gathered wide representation from Turkey.
Muhammet Sarıtaş, the chairperson of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce Committee, said flights between the two countries’ capitals would benefit both the airlines and the tourism industry.
Underlining that “the main goal” for Turkey would be to attract more tourists to areas near Ankara, such as the neighboring cities of Konya and Eskisehir as well as the picturesque Cappadocia region, Sarıtaş said this would prompt a further rise in demand for flights.
Also at the event was Mehmet Oktay, mayor of Turkey’s famed seaside town of Marmaris, who said he had taken part in promising meetings in Serbia.
“The Balkan market is important for our industry. We’ve had hard times for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic but this is coming to an end,” Oktay said.
“There are opportunities in Marmaris to meet all manner of needs for tourists coming from Serbia. We welcome tourists from the region to Marmaris,” he added, calling his town the “pearl of the world.”
According to Mert Demiral, the tourism and culture counselor of the Turkish Embassy in Belgrade, the number of Serbian tourists visiting Turkey from January to October last year had secured an increase of 78.46%.
The three-day fair is hosting participants from Turkey along with Greece, Montenegro, Egypt, Bulgaria, Russia, North Macedonia, Tunisia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and for the first time, Malaysia.