Turkey’s image as one of the centres of tourism was greatly affected by ongoing regional conflicts. Media reports of tension in Iraq and Syria spilling over in the country has a negative impact on many foreign visitors. Last year was not a good year for tourism as the number of domestic and foreign visitors fell to 3.8 million which is 2.46 per cent decrease compared to 2014. In the light of the horrific terror attacks in Turkey, our country still needs to promote itself as a mostly safe tourist destination. We need better promotion campaign to increase the appeal to tourism amid the fall of visitors last year.
Promoting the tourism industry in Turkey means selling a place, the experience and all the things it has to offer. We are competing with the entire world every time we promote our country. We need to be creative and unique in our approach due to the high level of competition. To succeed, our marketing efforts should put the best possible image of our country to create interest on broad scale. Here’s some of the ways we need to keep promoting ourselves to the world:
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism started allocating funds on advertisements in 1999, this move made Turkey the sixth most popular tourist destination in 2014. However, the ministry cut the advertising budget from $120 million to $15 million. The move contributed to the decline in the number of foreign tourist in 2015. We should follow the lead of countries like Greece which spend around 2 per cent of their GDP on promoting tourism. Advertisements on trade publication can get the eyes of travel sellers interested in Turkey. Placing ads in smart and targeted manner can help promote our country as a great tourist destination.
Partnership will help us promote tourism and reach a broader and more desirable audience. Instead of creating a broad base of followers on our own, we can get a partner with an existing great number of followers. We can partner with national travel agencies by granting them special deals and promotions for their customers in exchange for access to their network of customers.
Sponsorships can be done in any shapes or sizes from local to national events with its own target audiences to promote tourism. We can sponsor events and distribute giveaways like promotional pens to create awareness. We can sponsor high-visibility sporting events to globally promote Turkey. Televised events have the extra benefit of local, national and international media coverage which can multiply our potential for reaching wider audience.
4. Involve the community
People around our tourist destinations are great asset; we can involve them in our promotional activities. Residents have inside information about things that might appeal to tourist. Local residents from different income levels, ethnicities and ages can help us identify different attractions; we can involve them in local brainstorming.
5. Culture and National Heritage
Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on culture and national heritage sites like the Temple of Artemis and Mausoleum of the Halicarnassus which is two of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Heritage tourism encourages traveling to experience the places, artifacts and stories of people in the past. Promoting our culture through heritage tourism has a positive economic and social impact as it establishes our identity and helps preserve our cultural heritage while promoting it to the world.
6. Event Promotion
Turkey is home to different great festivals and events. There are popular music festivals, cultural, national and religious festivals, sport and outdoors events, nightlife events, lifestyle events and wonderful Turkish festivals. A visit to Turkey at any time of the year can include a matchless experience of art, music, history and culture. National and religious events are celebrated with great enthusiasm in Turkey and have the potential in attracting foreign tourist. Local government and tourism agencies can work hand in hand to create effective tourism promotion.
7. Trade Shows
Trade shows bring together every aspect of the travel industry in one place for meeting, interaction and new deals. Every travel and tourism suppliers gather in trade shows, this is a good opportunity to sell our tourist destinations to the national travel agencies who have millions of customers. Trade shows around the country and the world can draw media attention and create awareness on tourism.
8. Digital Marketing
Application of digital marketing strategies is a great way to reach tourists who use the internet before making their travel plans. Travelers today rely on digital technologies for travel inspiration as well as research and booking. They also use different devices for all types of travel activities, from research, travel arrangements, booking and check-in. Search engine optimisation and search engine marketing is the best way to promote tourism online. Our official travel portal needs to be optimised to make it more visible to online visitors. We can also develop a comprehensive guide to online marketing for our tourism partners which can implement an online booking system.
9. Online Booking and Payment
Digital technologies can add value to our services. Today over one third of all travel bookings are made online. Utilizing online booking and payment give most potential tourist the ease. If tourist can book and pay online they will be more likely to be interested to visit our country again. Offering 24 hour booking and payment online encourages tourist that we are accessible and up-to-date.
10. Social Media
New technologies like social networking sites enable people to interact, communicate and share ideas on the internet. Social media can be a great way to engage with people with relative ease and little cost. We can use social media for maximum benefit for our tourism promotion. By encouraging tourist to share their photos, stories and experiences using a unique hashtag on social networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter we can promote tourist engagement. We can use social media as an interactive tourist guide with integrated street navigation to help tourist find their way. Social media accounts can also drive traffic to our tourism sites.
11. Off-Season Promotion
Tourism is an activity which enable tourist to enjoy during their free time at their disposal. All of the four seasons exist in Turkey but the tourist high season is from mid-April through mid-September. Most tourists prefer to visit Turkey during spring and fall when the sun is warm and the skies are generally clear. The majority of rainfall occurs in winter but don’t underestimate Turkey in winter, the perks of visiting popular destination are endless. Traveling in Turkey in February is considered to be major off-season but can be a good promotion opportunity as most hotels, tours, restaurants and activities offer incredible discounts.
12. Promotional Documentaries and Publication
Documentary video films on important tourist spots of Turkey focusing on the beauty of the country can be used in television advertisements and tour operators presentations to promote to potential tourists. Printed sales literature carries key messages in pictures. These information materials can be used in advertising and sales promotion in specialized journals and special interest magazines. Promotional documentaries and publication can motivate local and foreign tourist to visit our tourist spots.