ISTANBUL, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Turkey registered an exceptional rise of almost 50 percent in the number of Arabian tourists in the past six months, particularly from Syria, Lebanon and Libya, a report said here on Sunday.
The English daily Today's Zaman said the increase should be attributed to the lifting of visa requirements and a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel due to the ongoing Gaza blockade.
The daily quoted Tourism Investors Association President Turgut Gur as saying that people from Middle Eastern countries has preferred such vacation hubs as Istanbul and Antalya. He added that he expected the number of Arab tourists to reach one million this year.
"One can assume that Arab tourists feel more comfortable in Turkey than in any European country or in the U.S. due to certain cultural and religious similarities," he said.
Gur said the existing Arab tourist potential for Turkey could certainly increase even more if Turkey knows how to "take advantage of it."
"We need to improve our relationship with Arab tourists with such incentives as employing more Arabic-speaking people in tourism facilities," he said.
In the light with the new development, tour operators, hotel owners and business owners are looking to hire new employees who can speak Arabic as they want to provide better service and attract as many Arab tourists as they can, said Cuneyt Mengu, owner of the Mercan tourism agency.
Turkish Association of Travel Agents President Basaran Ulusoy said Turkey's potential to attract Arab tourists should be capitalized upon since these people stay for a relatively longer time and spend more than average.