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Record 5.1 million tourists visits Turkey during first quarter of 2018 TOURISM

(Istanbul-NewsHalal-Sha'ban 12, 1439H) Turkey`s tourism sector showing rapid growth as country saw a new all-time high in the number of tourists coming to the country in the first quarter of current year, reported by Turkish Daily Sabah.

Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced Friday that the country welcomed around 5.1 million tourists. Kurtulmus, who attended the signing ceremony of the protocol of the Tourism Advisory Board in Istanbul, announced that the first three-month figures showed around 5.138 million tourists came to the country.

Kurtulmus highlighted that this is an all-time record, which corresponds to an increase of about 35-36 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

The Tourism Advisory Board, a new board that will assume the role of umbrella organization and consist of eight leading non-governmental organizations in the sector and national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) and whose aim will be to carry out projects to increase the number of tourists and income, is of historical importance for Turkish tourism, the minister said.

Indicating that in this era, tourism has become an important sector not only for Turkey, but also for the whole world.

"It is obvious it will be one of the world's fastest-growing sectors in the coming 10 years. The Tourism Council we organized earlier has given us a very important perspective. Tourism is Turkey's strategic sector," the minister reportedly said.

Indicating that the country has gained important momentum in this sector, Kurtulmus said with the development of the tourism sector, Turkey's current account deficit would continue to decline.

He also pointed to the current deficit of $47.1 billion Turkey has with the figures from last year. "If we consider that the tourism sector has reached a potential of $32 billion with the figures from last year, it will be a sector with enough strength to close Turkey's current account deficit alone as of this year," Kurtulmus said.

He said last year's $26 billion tourism revenue will be raised to $32 billion this year, noting that they aim for 40 million tourists, expecting this number to reach 50 million tourists and $50 billion in tourism revenues in 2023. "The figures are encouraging. We went through difficult times in the past. Political turbulence both in Turkey and in its surroundings affected tourism. As a result, we witnessed declines in the number of tourists," Kurtulmus said, stressing that 2017 was a very strong year of return and that 2018 will be much stronger.

Commenting on the first-quarter figures, Minister Kurtulmus stated the number of tourists coming from Russia would reach 5 million this year, while the number of German tourists is likely to be close to 4 million.

After seeing a sharp decline in the number of visitors to Turkey for tourism in 2016, a year that included a series of terror attacks and a failed coup attempt, the tourism industry saw a recovery in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) has confirmed that the country's tourism revenue rose by more than 18.9 percent in 2017 as it hit $26.3 billion from $22.1 billion in the previous year. While the country hosted 36.8 million foreign tourists in 2014 and 36.3 million in 2015, the figure fell sharply to 25.3 million in 2016 but rose again to 32.4 million last year, according to the national statistical body.

Turkey is also pushing for Halal Tourism as many more Islamic and non-Islamic countries striving to attract Muslim tourists.