German CEO sees rebound in Turkish tourism sector

By Tuba Sahin

ANKARA (AA) – The attractiveness of Turkey rebounded especially for European tourists in 2018, the CEO of Turkish-German carrier SunExpress says.

"We clearly see that there is a big rebound in Turkish tourism and the attractiveness of Turkey, especially in the eyes of European tourists is clearly coming up and very strong again," Jens Bischof told Anadolu Agency.

He added that the number of passengers the company carried to [the southern holiday resort city of] Antalya rose 30-35 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018.

"So 2017 was the record year [for SunExpress] and 2018 is going even better," he said. "And also if we look into the early stages of tourism in 2019, so my prospects are very positive for the upcoming period."

Recalling that 2016/2017 was a challenging year for the Turkish tourism sector, Bischof said the company had full confidence in not only the development but also in the recovery of the sector.

"Despite all the uncertainties and challenges, 2017 was a record breakout year for SunExpress," he noted.

The company carried 8.8 million passengers last year, the majority of whom traveled to Turkey's touristic destinations, Bischof said.

He added that the company has a great confidence in the market therefore had already ordered 50 aircraft in 2014.

"We will place majority of these aircraft here in the country," he said.

Commending Turkey's "extremely well developed" infrastructure, Bischof said business opportunities in the country were vast and rich.

"I like the business mentality and business environment that I found here. One major contributing factor is that you find a very young population in Turkey, the labor force is very well educated," he said.

Bischof said investors can be successful when they understand the market well.

"And also have to live little bit with the volatility and the cycles which we experienced in the market. But if you happen to do so, it can be very successful and certainly very exciting to work in Turkey," he noted.

Bischof recommended that investors who are interested in Turkey not place their investment decision in the hands of desktop research.

“Come here, look at this country, environment, infrastructure and create your own perspective. Because I believe if you do so you will gain trust to place investments in Turkey,” he said.

Antalya-based SunExpress was founded as a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Germany's Lufthansa in 1989.

The carrier flies to around 80 destinations in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

In terms of capacity, SunExpress is the biggest leisure carrier serving touristic parts of Turkey and Anatolia, Bischof stated.

He said that the airline was named 5th best leisure airline in the world and best leisure airline in Turkey by Skytrax in 2018​.

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