Istanbul as a Tourism Center
As a megacity of 16 million, that welcomes more than ten million tourists every year, Istanbul is a land in constant growth. While it is home to quite a few mega projects to accommodate the high population, it was handling such high numbers before them too. Buildings leftover from Byzantine and Ottoman Empires are on top of the reasons why to visit Istanbul.
One of the Oldest Cities in the World, Yet Still One of the Best
Hagia Sophia that shares the neighbourhood of Fatih district with the Sultan Mehmet Mosque are world wonders that alone attract millions. Hagia Sophia is now a mosque that was originally built as a Church. In contrast, its neighbour The Grand Mosque was commissioned to surpass the Church’s might. These are such huge attractions that the Istanbul Municipality has always worked transportation to guide the masses to them. A streetcar, the T1 Tramway with a route length of 19.2 km, transports minimum 320.000 people every day.
Seaports allow people to step on two different continents, Asia and Europe, in such a short time frame every day. The city continues to invest in the sea boats every year for their renewal while protecting the Ottoman Era aesthetics. Istanbul municipality plans new sea routes regularly to show all the wonders the city offer. Private boating companies offer tours around Bosphorus, catering to a constant demand.
Alongside the traditional tourist attractions, there have been quite a few new mega projects aiming to increase the number of tourists to the city. While you can read more details on these projects in our Mega Projects of Istanbul guide, it is worth mentioning the biggest ones here as well.
Canal Istanbul is a 45 km long plan to create an Island between Asia and European continents in Istanbul. It aims to ease the sea traffic of Bosphorus by building an artificial canal similar to the natural one used since the ancient times in Marmara Sea. Canal Istanbul will also repair the infrastructure of its route through building new restaurants, recreational areas, as well as making room for more residences with a coastal view. An 87 Billion USD budget is estimated for the truly mega project.
GalataPort; planned as an investment in the Tourism sector, this project aims to be the docking port for global cruise lines. With its 122 thousand km^2 area, Galataport restores the surrounding buildings from the past empires, while constructing new recreational areas and cultural facilities to accommodate the rising population. While it is estimated to be a $1 Billion USD project, it aims to bring an extra 1,5 million tourists annually. Considering just how much history Istanbul has, there is no doubt the project will be a profitable ınfrastructure move for the economy.
The New Istanbul Airport; As the population and tourism numbers continue to rise every day, Istanbul needed a third and bigger airport to handle them. Istanbul Airport, the region’s one of the largest airport is built on a 79.5 km^2 area, and finally began accepting flights in 2019. With a cost of 11 Billion USD, the project's goal is to welcome more than 150 million passengers, and be a bridge to 350 different destinations around the world.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s 2019 statistics, Istanbul generated 4,6 Billion USD from 24,4 million total tourists in the first three months. With a total hotel number of 1689, Istanbul is the second-highest tourist attraction of Turkey, while keeping the title of the business capital of the country. Individual districts like Beşiktaş have 28 First Class restaurant to offer everything in Turkish Kitchens. Neighbourhoods that welcome a high number of foreign tourists, like Şişli, have up to 22 different 5-Star Hotels.
18 Million foreign tourists annually visiting the city can not be wrong. Istanbul has so much to offer, no matter their wants. There are architectural wonders leftover from ancient times, a Grand Bazaar of merchants in business to crowds of people since the Silk Road, or a chance to change continents in a matter of minutes. As of December 2017, Istanbul was the 5th most talked city on instagram with 50.15 million hashtags mentioning the city.