RIYADH: Turkiye is expecting a surge in Saudi tourists following high-level diplomatic visits between the two countries, Ankara’s ambassador to Riyadh has told Arab News.
The diplomatic steps Ankara took last last year as part of the normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia means Turkiye is forecasting more than 1 million Saudi visitors this year, said Fatih Ulusoy.
He added: “We are focusing very much on tourism. Last year after the high-level visits between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Kingdom in April and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Ankara in June, we had around 500,000 Saudi tourists visiting Turkiye in the second half, until the end of the year.
“And this year, our target for Saudi tourists visiting Turkiye is at least 1 million. We are hoping to see Turkiye become the number one destination for Saudi tourists.”
The Turkish Embassy in Riyadh celebrated World Breakfast Day on Sunday.
“We are promoting Turkish delicacies and the Turkish breakfast. At the same time, we are focusing on tourism,” Ulusoy told Arab News.
“Turkiye is the home of our Saudi brothers and sisters. We are looking forward to enhancing tourism, trade and economic ties, and we have a lot of delegations coming in and out,” he added.
“A number of Saudi delegations are visiting Turkiye. We are very happy to boost our relations. Hopefully we will reach our targets together with Saudi brothers.”
The ambassador said: “On June 3 after the recent elections, President Erdogan started office in a big ceremony, which was attended by leaders from all around the world. We had high-level dignitaries attending it.”
Ulusoy noted that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to attend the ceremony.
“We are very happy to see this participation,” the ambassador said, adding: “We look forward to reaching new heights in our relations with Saudi Arabia.”
Saudi tourists are traveling to a variety of locations across Turkiye, with Istanbul proving the most popular destination, Ulusoy said.
Turkiye’s Black Sea region is also popular among Saudi tourists, offering mild climates across mountains and forests. In the south, beach resorts lining the Mediterranean Sea are also a Saudi favorite.
Bursa, close to Istanbul and rich in history, offers Saudi visitors access to a range of thermal baths, said Ulusoy.
The six hot spring baths on the west side of the city and in the village of Cekirge are famed across the region for their health benefits.
“This year we are also promoting Cappadocia, a region in central Turkiye. This is a very high attraction destination for tourists from around the world. It has a very unique nature. We have boutique hotels inside the caves,” said Ulusoy.
“We hope to see our Saudi brothers and sisters in the Cappadocia region as well. We hope to see our Saudi brothers and sisters in all these destinations.”