Turkey receives 27 mln foreign visitors in first 8 months of 2018

Tourists visit the Ottoman-era Sultanahmet mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

A total of 27 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey from January to August this year, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced Friday.

The data recorded a 22.9 percent year-on-year rise, up from 21.9 million, the ministry said.

Russians topped the list of arriving foreigners with 4.18 million, 15.5 percent of all foreign visitors, followed by Germans (2.97 million), Brits (1.57 million), Iranians (1.51 million) and Georgians (1.44 million).

Istanbul, the largest and the most popular city in Turkey, hosted 8.87 million foreign tourists between January and August, hitting the largest number of foreign arrivals.

Turkish tourism industry is quite optimistic that Turkey will likely host a record of over 40 million tourists this year due to strong demand from domestic and foreign market.

“September is one of the most productive months and tourists from Europe and other countries continue to come to Turkey,” said Osman Ayik, Turkey Hoteliers Federation chairman.

“We are going to see over 40 million foreign visitors at the end of this year,” he said, adding “the positive climate will continue in 2019.”

The official figures show that 32.4 million foreigners visited Turkey last year, while the number of arriving foreigners was 25.3 million in 2016.

The Turkish government set a target of 40 million tourists and 32 billion U.S. dollar in tourism revenue for 2018.