The WORLD TOURISM FORUM brings tourism leaders together in Antalya


world-tourism-forumLeaders steering the world tourism came together as part of the World Tourism Forum in Antalya. Figures shaping the global tourism trends discussed topics of online tourism, tourism investments, and new hotel concepts in the first part of the World Tourism Forum.

The World Tourism Forum, Davos of tourism, was held at Antalya Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort hosting leaders shaping the world tourism. Presented by MC Ece Vahapoğlu, the Forum kicked off with the opening speech of Bulut Bağcı, President of World Tourism Forum. Expressing his satisfaction in bringing together the professionals of tourism industry at the World Tourism Forum Mediterranean Meeting 2015, Mr. Bağcı went on to say “We carried out our first event under the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul on 30 April 2015. Today we come together with our colleagues to discuss tourism’s future with the participation of H.E. Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel and industry leaders. Having participated in Davos last year, we decided to hold a summit to discuss tourism in
Turkey at the Davos standards and got to work on the process. We will continue to discuss tourism at our global office meeting which will take place at Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center on 4-6 February 2016 and José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission as well as industry leaders will be among the participants. I would like to thank H.E. Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel and Mehmet Ersoy for their support. And I would like to extend my thanks to you for your participation.”

Tourism is a Peace Industry 

Emphasizing his satisfaction at having successive fruitful events in Antalya, H.E. Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel said “Antalya has recently hosted the G20 Summit, Piano Festival, and the Golden Orange Film Festival. Next year we will ensure that our beautiful city wins a name as the host of Botanical Expo 2016. In addition to its rich historical texture, Antalya has a wealth of natural resources and agricultural land. We export flowers. The Botanical Expo 2016 will reveal Antalya’s value even further. Tourism is a peace promoting industry in itself. We have quite strong cultural ties with Russia and we would like to leave behind the current political tension with least possible crisis.”  Menderes Türel thanked everyone who contributed to the World Tourism Forum.

Future of Online Tourism

The first panel of the World Tourism Forum was moderated by Nadejda Popova, Euromonitor International Analyst. Referring to the dynamic nature of the industry, Nadejda Popova said “Dynamics observed in online tourism 6 months ago may not be currently valid. We see that a multi-channel approach is followed in this area. Proliferation of Internet networks have changed our holiday approaches. While online travel reviews have an impact on preferences, we see increasingly transparent prices compared to the past. Online travel agents play a key role in the industry. Today personalized prices, services, and campaigns are popular.” Chara Georgiadou, Trivago Country Manager, was the first speaker to take the floor in the session emphasizing that Turks are quite sensitive to price issues. Underlining the importance of personalization and mobile channels, Chara Georgiadou said; “Trivago prefers to offer alternative options to consumers. Hotel operators have the ability to contact their clients directly through recently provided means of communication. Travelers are quite demanding today and they have become an audience with more technical knowledge. We want to respond to the requirements of the customers and enterprises in the most correct and fastest manner.”

Stating that the tourism conditions for industry are becoming more challenging on a day-to-day basis, Damian Cook, Founder and CEO of E- Tourism Frontiers, added “People examine and purchase online travel packages and share their holiday experience via social media networks. Shared experience, in return, impact decisions of other consumers. Today we cannot ignore the strength of social media. According to most recent surveys, use of social media networks varies in accordance with users’ age ranges. The 40-60, 30-40, 20-30, 10-20 age groups are interested in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, respectively. Proper and up-to-date deployment of social media accounts is quite important in a period when decisions are mostly made on online platforms.”

Bas Lemmens, Rommlr CEO said, on the other hand, that people do not sacrifice their holiday programs in a year and added: “Vacationers wish to receive simplistic services. This is why providing services in channels where everything will be offered simultaneously is important. Doing everything together in the online industry will bring profits.” Sharing his happiness at attending the World Tourism Forum, Gianluca Laterza, Southern and Eastern Europe Regional Director of Trip Advisor, said “Using mobile tools is quite important for you to reach vacationers living in faraway countries such as Thailand, China, and Brazil. The new generation is very sensitive to comments and prices. Enterprises must respond to such comments rapidly and accurately. Free of charge wi-fi, breakfast, and transfers are one of the main expectations of youth from a holiday. Today we need to appeal to emotions. Turkey has unique holiday spots. Please do not avoid communicating and promoting these unique destinations.”

Non-accommodation Revenues Must be Increased
Assessing tourism in Turkey during the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s in his speech, Mehmet Ersoy, Voyage Group Board Chairman, said “Tourism was conducted in Turkey during the 80’s under very difficult conditions. Transformation of Turkish Airlines as an investor in the 1990’s into a global carrier and birth of private airlines led to development of the hotel industry in Istanbul. Turkey needs to switch to the qualified upper segment with higher spending capacity in the period ahead. Non-accommodation revenues must be increased. Establishing a “Supreme Board of Tourism Planning and Promotion”, which I believe will contribute to the industry, is a must. Such a supreme board will assure easy promotion of Turkey in the global arena as well as planning activities. The USA, Greece, and Dubai are implementing this method. Steps should be taken in a planned manner for tourism.”

“Tension with Russia is an opportunity for tourism in Turkey”
Expressing his pleasure for coming back to Antalya after a long break, Cem Kınay, owner of Steigenberger Hotel Istanbul, said “I have played an active role in this industry for many years and I have noticed that there has not been much change during the past 25-30 years. I think the recent tension with Russia must be regarded as a major opportunity for Turkey. In a period when we became one of the world’s most important destinations, these incidents should be an opportunity whereby we can draw the roadmap for the coming years. The government, industry, and NGOs must assess the situation in this manner. Antalya has faced crises from time to time coming out stronger after each one. My main recommendation to those who are involved in the industry is to take decisions for the near-, medium, and long-term. Antalya is on the edge of changing its fate! There are not many cities attracting as much hotel investment as Antalya. Antalya must make its name by adding new activities to current ones rather than focusing on new hotel construction. All-inclusive systems must be enriched with integration to the local population. All-inclusive systems have benefitted Antalya so far especially due to security crises.”

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