By Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Tuba Sahin</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Turkey is holding high hopes for the future in the field of congress tourism, representatives of the sector said on Sunday. </p> <p>Timur Bayindir, head of the Hotel Association of Turkey (TUROB) told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview that the country and its most popular touristic destination Istanbul will reenter the routes to international events this year.
"Congress tourism requires long-term planning, as the proposals for the organizations to be held in 2021 and 2022 have already been received," Timur Bayindir said.
"Turkey will return to its former world ranking position if we don't experience any negativity in the next 2-3 years," he said.
Pointing the development of congress tourism in Turkey in the last decade, Bayindir said: "In 2013, which was a record-year, Turkey hosted 221 international meetings to become the 18th country in the world."
He noted that the leading countries in this field are the U.S., Germany, and the U.K., while the prominent cities are Barcelona, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and London.
– Turkey has no security issue
"Turkey suffered from the cancellation of many approved organizations over the past three years following a fabricated negative security perception.
"As of 2016, the country lost its place in the top 10 and Istanbul couldn't hold its rank among the first 20 cities in the world," Bayindir said.
TUROB's head stressed that there is no security issue in Turkey, where the quality of service/accommodation is first-class.
"Increasing tourism revenue is more important than tourist numbers," he said. "We have not yet reached the desired price levels compared to European cities."
To promote congress tourism, Bayindir suggested that value-added tax exemptions on international events would be beneficial for attracting visitors with high-income level.
Last year, Turkey welcomed 39.5 million foreign visitors, as the country's tourism revenues reached $29.5 billion.
– "Bleisure" gives Turkey advantages
<p>Selcuk Boynuegri, vice chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), told Anadolu Agency that Turkey will see a recovery in congress tourism sector which was negatively affected by political incidents.</p> <p>"Leading international congresses will be held in Turkey this year and in the upcoming years," Boynuegri said. </p> <p>He pointed out that congress tourism yields more revenue compared to individual and package tours. </p> <p>"The world average congress delegate expenditure is around $2,200 per events.</p> <p>"If Turkey's congress tourism income rises to the world average, it can give acceleration in the general tourism revenues," he said.</p> <p>Boynuegri noted that more than half of international congresses and meetings are held in Europe. </p> <p>Asserting the shining trend of "bleisure" -- the combination of business and leisure trips -- Boynuegri said this concept gives Turkey advantages to be preferred.</p> <p>"Turkey's historical, cultural and natural beauties along with the technological infrastructure of hotels, congresses and event centers may make the country a key destination in this field," he added.</p>