Istanbul’s inbound tourism riding high

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Hospitality industry experts scheduled to speak at The Turkey & Neighbours Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) next month, characterise Istanbul, the host city, as a rapidly growing destination where the hotel development pipeline rivals London.

Istanbul has emerged as the world’s fifth top destination, welcoming more than nine million of the roughly 25 million foreign tourists who visited the country last year.

The city saw a 16 per cent increase in inbound arrivals last year over 2011, fuelling the call for more capital investment in infrastructure, facilities, airline and rail networks as well as a range of accommodation options. Room demand rose 8.9 per cent in 2012 while supply increased at just 4.6 per cent, according to STR Global.

Elizabeth Randall Winkle, STR Global managing director, said there are more than 5,000 hotel rooms in the development pipeline. She is one of several industry experts scheduled to discuss hotel development in Turkey during CATHIC, which will be held May 29-30 at The Marmara Taksim in Istanbul.

“If we look at the number of pipeline rooms as a percentage of existing inventory, we can see that at 15 per cent Istanbul looks to be the front-runner, with London coming in a close second with 14 per cent,” she said. “However, London’s current room supply already stands at three times that of Istanbul for double the number of foreign visitors.”

Another expected CATHIC speaker, Defne Gezen, vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, said Istanbul is on its way to becoming an important international financial centre, paving the way for a surge in business traffic, as well as a tourism capital and a destination for events.


A third airport is planned for Istanbul, which is expected to further expand arrivals and, with it, more investment.

Ongoing initiatives including Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games also has strengthened the city’s appeal as a new global destination. The city already is a favourite location for TV series, documentaries, commercials and movies.

Istanbul will be the subject of a panel discussion at this year’s CATHIC to discuss room supply and performance and whether current momentum is sustainable and returns are sufficient to support new supply, among other issues.

The Focus on Istanbul session will feature Elif Balci Fisunoglu, general manager of the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau; Murat Yilmaz, senior director, acquisitions & development, central & Eastern Europe, for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide; and Serra Arikok, coordinator of Tourism Investments for the Demsa Group.

CATHIC speakers also will include Marty Kandrac, Blackstone managing director; Eric Danziger, Wyndham Hotel Group president & chief executive officer; Geoffrey Breeze, World Travel & Tourism Council executive director; Wolfgang Neumann, The Rezidor Hotel Group president & chief executive officer; and Mehmet Onkal, BDO managing partner.

CATHIC is co-organised by Bench Events and Questex Media, which also manages the Russia and CIS Hotel Investment Conference, Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, International Hotel Investment Forum Asia Pacific and International Hotel Investment Forum Berlin.

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