Increased tourism adds huge strength to our bid, says Istanbul 2020 chairman
Thursday, 04 October 2012
October 4 - Hasan Arat, the chairman of the Istanbul 2020 bid team, says that recent figures showing a huge rise in the number of foreign visitors to Turkey could give the city with a strong chance of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time ever.
The new figures released by Turkey's Ministry of Tourism and Culture confirm the country's position as one of the top ten most visited countries in the world and show that the number of foreign visitors to Turkey has risen in the first eight months of 2012 to 22 million – an increase of over half a million visitors on the same period in 2011.
The figures support the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index survey this year, which revealed that Istanbul is the fifth most visited destination on the planet with over 11 million foreign visitors expected this year.
It makes Istanbul the third most visited city in Europe, behind London and Paris, with a 14.7 per cent growth in holidaymaker numbers since the same time last year, while it is anticipated that a record-breaking 33 million tourists will travel to Turkey in 2013.
"These figures highlight that more and more tourists are being attracted to Turkey's vibrant culture, rich history, hospitable people and spectacular location which bridges Europe and Asia," said Arat.
"Turkey's tourist infrastructure has grown significantly, increasing by 67 per cent in the last ten years.
"By 2015, Turkey's hotels will offer 370,000 rooms for a wide variety of budgets – and this diversity of hotel accommodation is replicated in Istanbul.
"This is one of the great strengths of our bid, which will be demonstrated in our Candidature File next year."
The Candidate File, which will be submitted early next year, marks a key phase of the bid process for Istanbul who is locked in battle with Madrid and Tokyo to host the 2020 Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission, chaired by Britain's Sir Craig Reedie, will visit the three cities in March next year before publishing a vital report on the trio summarising the strengths and weaknesses of each bid.
It will then be down to the IOC to decide the host city at its Session in Buenos Aires in September.
But Uğur Erdener, and the President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee and an IOC member, believes Istanbul can prove themselves a worthy victor in the bid race through hosting several major events in the next few months, including the Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals this month, the Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon next month and the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships in December.
"This year Turkey is hosting several prestigious international sports events which, together with the increase in international visitors, contribute to the real momentum behind Turkey's bid to host its first ever Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020," he said.
"However, we recognise there is a significant amount of work still to do, and our team of national and international experts is focussed on delivering a unique and innovative blueprint for the Games with our Candidature File, which will be submitted to the IOC Executive Board early in 2013."