Turkey: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions
Our World | On 19, Jun 2013
As part of a new ‘ad hoc’ Our World series, I am asking some ‘movers and shakers’ from companies based outside of the UK, for their professional opinions on how the continued world recession is affecting them (and more importantly perhaps, how they are overcoming obstacles). I imagine it will prove what we already know, namely that our industry is ever creative in overcoming difficult trading conditions in order to thrive – Chris Clarke.
Turkey has been in the news of late regarding the civil unrest (although this is certainly not a uniquely Turkish phenomena). However, business life appears to be booming according to our guest blogger, Birgül Özden, Vice President MEP Destination Management, Turkey, who has kindly submitted this second article.
Bucking the trend
“I consider us to be fortunate in Turkey because unlike many other countries our economy is booming and investment both domestically and internationally in properties, venues and infrastructure has increased dramatically in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. The most immediate way of noticing this is with new hotels opening in Istanbul and indeed throughout Turkey. It is difficult to keep track of all the properties coming on line – it seems as if it at least one every week!
The economic boom in Turkey means that corporations that pride themselves of being worldwide players have a presence in the country be it with, offices, factories, dealers and distributors. This means that almost all the corporate end users that we have handled recently do business in Turkey. It is easy to justify bringing an international event to the country and the perception is that it is appropriate place to hold such events.
Talking about places I must stress that we have noticed an increase awareness of other destinations such as Antalya, Izmir, Bodrum and Cappadocia and clients are now looking seriously at holding events there either as a single destination or often combined with Istanbul.
Istanbul, of course, remains our major destination and with an ever increasing number of airlines flying there international access is excellent. Just from the UK Turkish Airlines now flies to Istanbul from London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester.
The city now boasts 5 convention centers with the two major ones, ICEC and ICC, located right in the centre of the city within walking distance of over 6,000 hotel rooms in 4/5 star categories. So it hardly surprising that so many regional and international associations are holding congresses and conferences in Istanbul.
Still challenges to face
We are grateful for all the good things that are happening to improve Turkey as a MICE destination however there are, as always, challenges. Traffic in Istanbul can be a problem and also hotel prices in some of top properties are relatively expensive. However we structure programmes to minimize the effect of traffic and increasingly use the waterways in and around the city. Also with so many new properties being opened this will inevitably bring down hotel prices.
Another factor that we cannot avoid is that MICE business from many of our traditional markets has reduced significantly. These markets which have experienced an economic downturn have produced fewer events with less participants and, of course, tighter budgets!
Whilst we continue to focus on our core markets of the UK, Europe and the USA we now also look to newer emerging markets for business. For example we recently handled a number of groups from Brazil.
Overall I am cautiously optimistic but history has taught us that this is a very cyclical business and sometimes factors outside of our control can have a dramatic effect.”