By Mehmet Tosun
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey has hosted around 32 million tourists in the first three quarters of 2018 with a 23 percent increase, said the culture and tourism minister on Wednesday.
“It looks like we will pass 40 million [tourists] and break Turkey’s record,” Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk.
Noting that there was an increase in the number of tourists, Ersoy said the tourism sector has experienced a rapid recovery.
Ersoy said apart from the common tourists enjoying the “sea, sand, sun”, tourists interested in culture also started to visit Turkey.
He said as part of a protocol with the national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), scheduled flights were going to start in 14 countries and 17 destinations as of April.
Destinations included the U.K., Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Algeria, Kuwait, as well as the Turkish coastal cities or districts of Antalya, Dalaman, Bodrum and Izmir, he said.
He also praised Turkey’s newly opened Istanbul Airport, which will be one of the world’s largest airports once completed, and said it was a key investment to boost tourism in the country.
Ersoy also said the long efforts for the repatriation of missing pieces of a Gypsy Girl mosaic — located in southeastern Gaziantep province — were close to an end.
The 12 Roman-era mosaics, which depict extinct birds and mythological characters, are currently held by Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
“As of Nov. 26, it will be brought to Gaziantep from [the U.S.’s] Chicago on a THY plane,” he said.
He added that 4,319 historical artifacts had been repatriated to Turkey from abroad in 2003-2018.