Istanbul Calling: Istanbul Tourism Boom 2022
Turkey has long been a favorite among travelers searching for a perfect summer escape, with lively towns, impressive historic ruins and monuments, and landscapes ripe for exploration. Not to mention spectacular beaches. Tourism, however, has fallen in Istanbul and elsewhere as a result of the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions that have been in place for the past two years.
Tourists began to flock to Istanbul when the majority of the travel restrictions were lifted. Although the war in Ukraine affected tourism in Turkey, Istanbul’s tourist prospects are still promising for 2022.
Measures to travel to Turkey
Turkish Ministry of Health announced in early March, 2022 that masks will no longer be required outdoors. Indoor mask mandate is not any more necessary in case there is enough air circulation.
Vaccinated persons who received at least two doses of vaccine within 14 days before entering Turkey and those with COVID-19 within the last 6 months who can produce a healing certificate and whose first PCR test with a positive result is at least 28 days old can enter Republic of Turkey.
If passengers are arriving from or have been to following countries in the last 14 days, they must provide a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before their arrival.
- Afghanistan, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Namibia and Pakistan.
How the war in Ukraine affects tourism in Istanbul and Turkey
Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russian and Ukrainian travelers. Due to the current conditions, many tourists have canceled their bookings for 2022 summer. Turkey was expecting about ten million tourists from Russia and Ukraine this year. But this figure has considerably fallen, affecting cities particularly in Aegean and Mediterrenean regions.
What has changed in Istanbul during the last two years, and what to expect?
Galataport is now open for business
Istanbul’s new cruise port is located in the city center, in the Karaköy district’s waterfront suburbs. The port spans a 1.2-kilometer stretch of the Bosphorus.
Istanbul cruise port terminal provides outstanding cruise facilities, from dining to shopping, entertainment, and unique office spaces. While its primary function is to serve as a cruise port for international journeys, it has earned a reputation as a cultural and historic social center for Istanbul visitors.
What to do at Galataport, Istanbul?
Restaurants and coffee shops
Galataport Istanbul has definitely its share of some of the nicest restaurants in the city when it comes to dining out! The facility has restaurants and cafés using approximately half of the whole space in Istanbul harbour.
Mezzaluna, Baylan, and Saltbae Burger are just a few of the cafes and restaurants delivering the most exquisite flavors of the world and Turkish cuisine. From the best Istanbul coffee shops, to restaurants serving delicious Turkish breakfast or best burgers in town, Galataport Istanbul offers unique experiences for foodies.
Besides, Istanbul cruise ship port provides a diverse brand and retail shop selection, ranging from casual to high-end labels. It is ideal for travelers who are simply passing the time or seeking gifts for their loved ones. You can visit the Karaköy region nearby and may wander around the streets, look for oriental and handcrafted goods.
New Hotels in Istanbul:
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group owns and runs some of the world’s most opulent resort hotels and apartments, including new properties in Istanbul. With Bosphorus Istanbul, Mandarin Oriental made a strong momentum in the area. Standing on the shores of wonderful Bosphorus, Mandarin Oriental is a new competitor in Istanbul’s luxury tourism industry. It’s located in Kurucesme district, a beautiful and central location by the Bosphorus.
With its new hotel in Balmumcu, Mövenpick, the premium hotel brand of France’s multinational hotel group, has begun serving its guests. It is serving as Mövenpick Bosphorus Hotel Istanbul.
Peninsula Hotels, a luxury hotel brand with only 10 sites throughout the globe, has opened at Istanbul’s Galataport. The Peninsula Istanbul transforms the historical port into one of the most popular tourism and accommodation destinations with its global and distinguished guest portfolio.
Peninsula Istanbul is set to open in late 2022. The hotel will serve with spacious 177 rooms with view of historical peninsula and Bosphorus. The project has an investment value of €300 million.
New Transportation Options in Istanbul
Mecidiyeköy – Beşiktaş – Kabataş Metro – Subway Line
One of the beauties of Istanbul travel is having several options for public transportation. Especially for the European continent- which includes Sultanahmet, Karaköy and Taksim, there are tram, subway, bus, etc. options available.
The good news is that a new subway line will be active in 2022 connecting a bunch of popular neighborhoods namely Beşiktaş, Kabataş, and Mecidiyeköy. The new M7 metro line is expected to carry one million persons daily and make a great impact on Istanbul’s heavy traffic.
Istanbul Airport is well suited to the tourism boom of 2022 since it has a huge capacity and built with a modern infrastructure. It serves as a hub in the center of many important travel destinations due to its location.
İstanbul Cruise Port
Galataport, Istanbul’s new terminal port, is a project that will expand the frontiers of cruise tourism, particularly in Istanbul’s Mediterranean basin. Galataport cruise terminal, one of the primary projects aimed at increasing Turkey’s portion of the global cruise tourist market, is expected to contritube to tourism industry in 2022.
Nightlife In Istanbul
There are a variety of appealing alternatives for all budgets, ranging from intimate and local pubs to sophisticated scene bars and fancy nightclubs. The majority of venues are open all year.
Whether it’s modern, western music, or traditional oriental music, live music is very significant to the locals. The numerous live clubs, stages, and bars (Meyhane) are ideal venues for such experiences.
For nightlife, Taksim, Beyoglu is one of the most popular places to go. Istiklal Street is home to pub crawls, nightclubs, jazz bars, and more. The areas of Karaköy and Cihangir, which are also close to Taksim, are also great picks.
Some of the most exclusive Istanbul night clubs are located on the shores of Bosphorus. Ruby, Sortie and Oligark night clubs combine dining and dancing in style.
Shopping In Istanbul
Istanbul is a shopper’s dream. Major tourist sites in the old town, like the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, mix historical sightseeing with shopping. Whether you are purchasing a Turkish carpet with a slick sales pitch or a box of Turkish delight around the Golden Horn, Istanbul offers unique shopping experiences in 2022.
The antique and vintage stores in the Cukurcuma district, located east of Istiklal Caddesi, are worth a visit whether you’re a dedicated collector or just love rummaging.
Weekly bazaars and farmers’ markets are quite popular among Turks. Thursday Market in Ortakoy and Saturday Markets in Besiktas, Bakirkoy, and Ferikoy (Sisli), and the Tuesday Market in Kadikoy on the Asian side, are all worth visiting for quality products and a local experience.
There are around 200 trendy shopping malls in Istanbul. And some of them are quite massive, ranking among Europe’s best shopping malls. On the European side of Istanbul, the Kanyon, Metrocity, and Akmerkez in the Levent district; Zorlu in Zincirlikuyu district, the Istinye Park in Maslak, and the Cevahir in Mecidiyekoy are the most prominent shopping centers worth a visit.
Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi)
Although the Maiden’s Tower has not been in service for a while, it is a must-see with its unique structure and history. Restoration is still ongoing, and it is expected to be completed by October 2022.
What will the future hold for tourism in Istanbul?
While the number of cases is decreasing, the vaccination rate is also on the rise, and tourism in Istanbul is once again on the rise.
Turkey has become more appealing as an investment and vacation destination as the Turkish lira has depreciated. Cost increases in the energy and food industries, on the other hand, will be reflected in tourism and will boost the prices in TRY.
In terms of investments, 2022 will be a transition year for Istanbul. However, a more investment-friendly climate will be built in 2023 and beyond.
Expected Tourist Visit to Istanbul, Turkey in 2022
In the first month of 2022, Istanbul welcomed 791 thousand 578 foreign tourists, an increase of 136 percent over the same period the previous year. Although the Ukraine war will cause some interruptions, this number will continue to rise.
Minister of Culture and Tourism Ersoy stated that their goal for 2022 was 42 million tourists and $35 billion in revenue. And then he continued: “We have to develop market variety from the start when defining our tourist objectives for 2023. To gain market diversity, we established the Tourism Development Agency (TGA). Turkey is now advertising itself in 120 countries via international media and internet platforms. TGA will spend more than $100 million on promotion this year”.
“Our goal this year is to achieve the numbers before the pandemic,” Ersoy added, pointing out that Istanbul had 15 million visitors before the virus. For the past two years, they have been running a very effective marketing campaign with TGA.
Which countries send tourists to Istanbul?
Russians account for 10.99 percent of total tourists to Istanbul in the first month of 2022, followed by Iranians (8.58 percent), Germans (7.55 percent), French (3.42 percent), and British (3.29 percent). The Dutch tourists accounted for 3,03 percent of the total. Figures may fluctuate due to current conditions in Ukraine.
On the basis of Turkey and Istanbul, the number of British visitors incoming may rise. Istanbul is also one of the top destinations where British people get medical treatment.
Travel trends 2022
Due to pandemic, we have seen major changes in tourism services. Travel restrictions, last-minute cancellations and testing requirements made travelling more complicated than ever. For this reason, number of people seeking advise from tourism companies have increased.
Travel agencies and tour operators have made travel much easier during pandemic. Although the internet age and latest advances in technology help travelers with their bookings, they still needed assist from a professional travel company.
We have experienced corporate trips and events that were postponed from 2020 and 2021 are coming back to Istanbul in 2022. It is expected to see a high tourist demand in summer as well as September and October. Some major hotels are fully booked during some weekends in May. We also see more people choosing Southern Turkey for their summer holidays due to the positive reflection of Turkish TV series in the world.
What is the current situation of Istanbul travel agencies and tour operators?
While several tourism agencies and operators had to shut down their activities temporarily, some of them closed their doors for good. Quickly adapting to changes and mastering digital communication gave a competitive advantage to some travel companies in Istanbul.
Well-established Istanbul travel agency brands such as Oskar Tours adapted to the situation, offering flexible solutions to Istanbul visitors. These included aligning hotels with flexible policies, making every vendor and provider conform to Covid-19 social distance and hygiene rules, as well as offering custom-made solutions for its guests.
Ready to decide your travel to Istanbul?
Against all the odds, Istanbul is a global metropolitan city inheriting cultural, historical, and social offerings for tourists. And the city is ready for visitors more than ever with its new facilities, airport, cruise port, infrastructure, and good old history!