Foreign tourists visiting Turkey increased by 145 pct in 10 years
The number of tourists visiting Turkey increased by 145 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to statistics released by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday. The ministry's statistics show that the total number of tourists who visited Turkey in 2002 was 12,927,693 and this number increased by 18,727,495 in 2012, reaching 31,655,188. The biggest increase occurred with Iraq, with a 3,418 percent increase over the same years, followed by Qatar (1,508 percent), Brazil (976 percent) and Argentina (914 percent). When analyzing the figures in terms of the overall number of people from a country to visit Turkey, the greatest increase took place in Russia, with 2,676,713 more people in 2012 than in 2002. The only country for which the number of tourists to Turkey decreased was Israel. The number of Israeli tourists traveling to Turkey dropped by 67.7 percent over the 10-year period. The drop is thought to be related to sour relations between Turkey and Israel, which killed nine Turks on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla ship the Mavi Marmara in 2010. The highest increase in tourists by region was seen in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) -- former Soviet republics -- with an increase of 5,606,732 people in the last 10 years, followed by African countries, with an increase of 701,167 people, corresponding to 293.7 percent. Africa was followed by the US (263.9 percent), Asia (222 percent) and Europe (92.5 percent).