Ambassador Selçuk Ünal's opening remarks at at the Turkish Airlines Montreal Awards Ceremony for Canadian Travel Agents
Distinguished Representatives of Travel Agents,
It is a pleasure for me to address the distinguished representatives of Canadiantravel agencies and tour operators. I would like to congratulate the Turkish Airlines Montreal Office for this organisation and thank for their kind invitation.
2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Canada.
On this occasion, we have been organising several activities in cooperation with the Turkish Airlines and the Turkish Ministry of Culture throughout Canada. Our relations started in the midst of the Second World War. However, relations have a longer history, including the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s participation in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War in 1915. The Gallipoli campaign has a significance for turning tragedies of the war into friendship between Turkey and the nations which took part in the campaign. It has also been true for Turkey and Canada, which have been close allies during the past 75 years within NATO and G-20.
Turkey and Canada enjoy good economic relations with a bilateral trade volume of around 2.6billionCADannually. However, trade broke several records in 2017. The trade volume reached for the first time ever to almost 4 billion CAD, 1 billion CAD for the first time ever in favour of Canada. The trade volume increased by almost 40 % in the first quarter of 2018 - which is another first ever record. This trend will continue. And we expect the same for the tourism sector in 2018 and onwards.
Apart from growing economic relations, cultural ties are flourishing too. Canada is home tomore than 90thousandTurkish Canadians, and more Canadian tourists aregoing to holidayin Turkey. We had hosted approximately 200 thousandCanadian tourists in 2015. Rateof increase of Canadian tourists visiting Turkey was higher than many other countries. Yes, there was a hick-up in 2015. But thanks to the success of our counter-terrorism operations in Syria, there has been no incident in Turkey since 2015. Numbers have picked up. Tourists going to Turkey not only via Turkish Airlines, but also with cruises are on the rise. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals to Turkey is growing. Turkeyis currently the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. It attracted more than 32 million tourists in 2017.
Canadian friends who love travelling sometimes ask why they should go to Turkey. There is more than one answer. With cities steeped in history, beaches, and beautiful countryside, rich cultural, culinary and natural wonders, Turkey promises a unique vacation experiences for all visitors.
I will not talk about the cultural features in detail. I believe thas been done. And Turkey talks about itself anyway. I just wish to highlight a few remarkable spots.
Istanbul has become a trademarkwith its historical peninsula and historical beauties. It is a magnificently unique city that has been capital to many civilizations from past to present. During the past two decades, Istanbul has become a world centre for tourism, business, arts and culture. It is thesecondcityafter New York with the highest number of Consulate Generals. 61 million passengers travelled to or through Istanbul in 2015. It hosted more travellers thanthe number JFK and Frankfurtairports and it becamethe biggest hub in Europe. Istanbul airports provide the highest level of international security requirements. Direct flightsof Turkish Airlines from Montreal and Torontomake it even easier to travel to Istanbul. The third airport in Istanbul will be the biggest one in Europe.
Istanbul's TopkapıPalace,HagiaSophia, the amazing scenery of the Bosphorusand the Blue Mosque, House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir,SumelaMonastery in Trabzon, Cappadociaand the Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Antalya, Turkish Riviera,first and foremostAntalya, at the Mediterranean and the Aegeancoastsare among the must-see sites. Seafood lovers should dine at the terrific fish restaurants of Istanbul as well as the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. Gourmets should not miss the chance to taste the pastries, diverse kinds of baklava, Turkish coffee and other delicious specialties of Turkish culinary culture.I need to mention that Gaziantep Cuisine has been included into UNESCOCreativeCities Network in 2016. The Aegean coastcharms travellers with its diverse offerings such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the extraordinarily beautiful and ancient sites of Troy and Ephesus.
Speaking of Troy, which is in Gallipoli that I mentioned at the beginning,
I would like to make another remark. You all have heard about the ancient city of Troy. It is a historic place embracing the cultural treasures of east and west. With over five thousand years of history, it has been an inspiration for literature and gained immortality by its features on war and love. It is one of the 17 cultural heritages of Turkey at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. It is not famous only because of its archeological findings, but also due to the "Iliad" of Homer - famous poet from Anatolia, Turkey. Due to the importance attached to protect this cultural heritage, Turkey has declared 2018 as "The Year of Troy" on the occasion of the 20th year anniversary of its recognition by UNESCO. There have been and will be many cultural events, academic conferences and exhibitions to be held in Canada.
To cut a long story short,Turkey is as safe as any European country and ready to welcome more Canadians who look for excellent quality services, great entertainment, unique cultural, social, historical and culinary experiences.
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