At the Fifth Anniversary of Travel and Leisure: India and South Asia

Dr.Burak Akçapar 08.09.2011
Excerpts from the Remarks

by Dr. Burak Akcapar
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey
At the Fifth Anniversary of Travel and Leisure: India and South Asia
New Delhi, September 2011

Thank you very much. I love birthday parties.

At age five Travel and Leisure India has taken huge strides and established itself among the leading journals of the trade.

That it has joined Manchester United, Barcelona and others in associating with Turkish Airlines, voted the best airline in Europe, shows its appeal and good judgement.

There is an age old question asked for generations in Turkey. A quip or a witticism if you like.

Who would know more in life?

Is it the one who reads the most? Or the one who travels the most?

I cannot claim to have the answer. But I know that seeing is believing. Whether it’s the Incredible India or the Fascinating Turkey, one must go, see and be amazed with one’s own two eyes.

Journals like Travel and Leisure help people make the choices about where to go, what to see, what not to miss. They are both reading and seeing.

Therefore, going back to the old question, my suggestion would be to read before and after you travel.

Tourism is builds bridges. We have a conviction in Turkey, which I believe equally holds for India. Once you see Turkey you cannot help being fascinated by the country. Turkey grows in you. Amazes you. And, you would want to come back again and again. And the country always has something novel, as yet undiscovered, offering no matter how many times you visit.

Some 29 million people attest to that every year, as they travel to Turkey, year around.

Turkey is not a one dimensional tourism destination. It is as much about culture as it is about beaches or mountains. It is vibrant in winter, spring, summer and fall.

I have one upside and one downside to share with you, as I look to the Turkish-Indian tourism relations. The good news first. Not only the number of Indian tourists visiting Turkey increase significantly every year, but the rate of increase itself increases every year. Last year the number of tourists had grown by 24% compared to 15% the preceding year. The not so good news however is that, notwithstanding the significant increases, there were still only 63 thousand Indians who visited Turkey last year.

Especially as I know that more than 12 million Indians went abroad for tourism in the same time frame. But not to the 7th most popular tourism destination in the world, namely Turkey.

But, this is not an isolated case. In almost every field in Turkish-Indian relations the trend is positive but the numbers are incredibly low. Take for instance the merely 4 billion dollars of two-way trade among the two G-20 economies.

Such figures can be seen as disappointing. I see them also as exciting! The potential is real and its exhilarating. I have full faith that we are at a certain turning point, or a tipping point in Turkish-Indian relations. Tourism will provide a big push to tip on the right side. Because, a study in 2010 has found that Turkey is also the most popular new destination for Indians. And, this is 80% because of leisure, 20% for meetings, congresses, exhibitions. Weddings, golf, honeymoon and shopping are other reasons why more and more Indians are choosing Turkey for holidays. I can count a thousand reasons more to visit Turkey and get to know the meaning of Turkish hospitality.

But, this is a birthday party, not a lecture. So let me conclude with a travel joke...

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