Remarks By Ambassador Selçuk Ünal At Turkish Culture And Tourism Office Montreal Workshop , 26.02.2016
It is a pleasure for me to address the distinguished representatives of Canadian and Turkish tourism sectors. Thank you all for your interest and participation. I would also like to thank our recently opened Culture and Tourism Office in Toronto headed by Ms. Derya Şerbetçi Acar, our Counsellor for Culture and Tourism. I also sincerely that the TURSAB and the Turkish Airlines who are participating.
According to UN World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2015 and expected to increase in 2016 where Turkey, like every country, wishes to raise its share. And we are not doing badly. Turkey is currently the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world, attracting more than 36 million tourists annually.
Turkey and Canada enjoy good economic relations with a bilateral trade volume of around 2.6 billion CAD annually. We hope to dramatically increase this amount with the finalization of a new generation and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Canada of which exploratory talks were successfully completed at the end of 2013.
Apart from growing economic relations, cultural and social ties are increasing. Canada is home to more than 60 thousand Turk, and more Canadian tourists are going to holiday in Turkey. Turkey hosted approximately 200 thousand Canadian tourists last year. Rate of increase of Canadian tourists visiting Turkey is higher than many other countries.
Canadians who have never gone to Turkey, of course, ask us why they should go. There is more than one answer. First, Turkey is one of the most exciting and positively surprising destinations in the world. Secondly, it is offering unique cultural, social, historical and culinary experiences throughout the whole year. Thirdly, Canadian friends love travelling.
With cities steeped in history, beaches, and beautiful countryside, rich cultural, culinary and natural wonders, Turkey promises a unique vacation experiences for all visitors. Let me say a few words on Istanbul which has become a trademark with its historical peninsula, numerous scenic and historical beauties is a magnificently unique city that has been capital to many civilizations from past to present. It still continues to be home to residents from all over the world. During the past two decades, Istanbul has become a world centre for tourism, business, arts and culture. The city has gone through a major transformation to meet the demands of its 12 million population as well as its visitors.
It is the second city after New York with the highest number of Consulate Generals. 61 million passengers travelled through Istanbul in 2015. It hosted more travellers than the number JFK and Frankfurt and it became the biggest hub in Europe. Istanbul airports provide the highest level of international security requirements. Direct flights of Turkish Airlines from Montreal and Toronto make it even easier to travel to Istanbul. That is why, as Turkey we request more frequencies in aviation discussions.
Counsellor Acar and our guests from Turkey will provide you detailed information regarding Turkey’s destinations, but I would like to highlight a few remarkable spots. Istanbul's Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the amazing scenery of the Bosphorus and the Blue Mosque are among the must-see sites.
Turkish Riviera, first and foremost Antalya and its environs at the Mediterranean and İzmir at the Aegean coast offers a wide variety of sun and sand holidays for families, at reasonable prices than other major competitors. The Aegean coast charms travellers with its diverse offerings such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the extraordinarily beautiful and ancient sites of Troy, Ephesus and Hierapolis.
This year Antalya will also host the International Horticultural Exposition (EXPO 2016) between April and October. EXPO 2016-Antalya aims to have the highest international participation in the history of Horticultural Expositions, attracting over 8 million visitors.
Turkey is also the heart of all Abrahamic religions. Landmarks of the Abrahamic faiths across the natural landscape of Anatolia and sight see major religious sites such as the House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir, Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, Cappadocia and the Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Antalya.
Last but not least, 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 including a variety of traditional kebabs. I need to mention that Gaziantep Cuisine was just included into UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
To cut a story short, Turkey is ready to welcome more Canadians who are looking for excellent quality services, great entertainment and unique cultural, social, historical and culinary experiences.