Nearly 40 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in 2018, an increase of more than 21 percent over the previous year, according to Tourism Ministry figures reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday.
The Turkish tourism industry has been recovering over the last couple of years after a series of terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016 as well as a failed coup in July 2016 seriously damaged the sector.
“Tourism in Turkey continues to rise and break the records of recent years,” the ministry said, adding that there was a rise of 21.84 percent in 2018 from 2017.
Turkey welcomed just over 46 million visitors in 2018, including 39.49 million foreigners and 6.62 million Turkish citizens from abroad.
The number exceeded that of 2015 when 42 million visitors came to Turkey, before a decline of 24.6 percent was recorded in 2016.
The last major terrorist attack to hit Turkey was during New Year’s celebrations in 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at an elite Istanbul nightclub.
Tourism revenue increased by 12.3 percent to reach $29.5 billion in 2018 over the previous year, according to official statistics published by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) on Thursday.
The 2018 figure was up from $26.3 billion the previous year, TurkStat said.
Official data revealed that 81.8 percent of the revenue came from foreign visitors and 18.2 percent from Turkish citizens living abroad.
Nearly six million foreigners coming to Turkey in 2018 were from Russia — an increase of 26.49 percent over 2017 — and 4.5 million were from Germany, up 25.88 percent from the previous year, according to the ministry’s statement.
Around 1.5 million people visited Ephesus in western Turkey — where the remains of one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” the famous Temple of Artemis, is situated — in 2018.
But in 2017 the figure was lower, at 996,800 visitors, the Tourism Ministry said.