Voters from the magazine’s 4.8 million readers placed Istanbul ahead of Paris, Venice and London in the European category, while the city finished second in the worldwide category. Turkey welcomed 31.78 million international visitors in 2012, and that number has continued to rise in 2013. This June saw a 4.93% year-on-year increase in the total number of visitors to Turkey. The latest update to Turkey’s 2023 Master Plan anticipates that by 2020 nearly 50 million tourists will be visiting the country annually – not including the potential influx of Olympic tourists should Istanbul win the right to host the 2020 Games.
Hasan Arat, Chairman of Istanbul 2020, said, “Istanbul’s appeal has never been higher and I am delighted my home city has been voted the No. 1 destination to visit in Europe. There is a reason Hollywood films and best-selling books are regularly set here – audiences all over the world are captivated by the magic of Istanbul. But it is even better in real life, and I can guarantee Istanbul’s iconic city-scape will inspire athletes to deliver their own moments of cinematic brilliance and create Games history.”
Turkish Airlines, an Istanbul 2020 sponsor, is already feeling the effect of this tourism boom through a 26% increase in passengers carried in the first half of 2013. With Istanbul’s enduring appeal as a meeting point of European and Asian cultures, the airline is also planning to almost double its fleet from 228 aircraft to 415 by 2020.
Travel + Leisure’s Top 10 Cities - Europe:
8 Bruges, Belgium
Travel + Leisure’s Top 10 Cities - World:
4 Cape Town
5 Kyoto, Japan
7 Charleston, South Carolina
10 Chiang Mai, Thailand