first_imgÖzgür Aytürk Culture and Tourism Counsellor of the Turkish Embassy in India takes pride in promoting his country’s culture and tourism and has taken several steps to tap into the ever-increasing outbound travellers market from India. In an interview with Millennium Post he speaks about how both Turkey and India are connected culturally.Can you tell us about the cultural of your country and how similar it is to India?Turkey is on the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East and that in itself makes it unique. And it is for this reason that for centuries Turkey has seen many civilisations come and go and has had the fortune of evolving a diverse and rich heritage and culture much like India. So when one visits Turkey today you will find richness of this diversity in every part of the country and especially in Istanbul as it was capital to three different empires in the history. So one would find a great mix of religious worship places, cuisine, and cultural all under one roof in Istanbul. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’What steps have you taken to improve cultural relations between India and Turkey?We think that culturally we are close to India unfortunately, however, we have to remind this to the people of both the nations. Both India and Turkey share common platforms in terms of cuisine, general characteristics amongst our people, hospitality and even language.  In fact there are more than 9,000 words that are same or similar in both the languages. To remind both the nations of these similarities we have been organising several cultural nights or supporting them. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixSufism is another string that binds both the countries musically and culturally hence we have orgainsed several Sufi festivals. The last one was performed at the Rastrapati Bhawan. So we are trying to promote and showcase these similarities in order to build stronger cultural ties. We had also organised a Turkish food festival some time back which got a good response. We are also looking at establishing a cultural centre in Delhi, once that is established we will be holding Turkish events more often in the city and we hope to have it established by the end of this year. What is the role of the Indian travel fraternity in promoting Turkey among Indian travellers?Now people are using websites more often but still when you look at this market, majority of them are still going to the travel agents before making their decisions. They still have a great impact on the end consumers while shaping their decisions and making their vacation plans. That is why we will be supporting the travel trade through road shows, fun trips, media campaigns that are going on. What segments are you looking to promote in India? Please tell us about your strategies in targeting these.MICE definitely. Although, we do not have certain breakup for MICE and leisure, we believe that more than 20 percent visit Turkey for MICE purpose and little less for leisure. We are focusing on MICE because we think Turkey has many things to offer. It has very beautiful and big convention facilities. Ontalia is hosting the ICCA 2014 conference, Ismeirs and some other cities have big convention venues.On the other side, wedding is becoming very popular for Turkish private sectors. We are getting queries from Turkish hoteliers and associations. We are willing do so something on wedding and golf. We are inviting decision makers and tour operators to showcase the gold destinations. We have been organising Istanbul shopping fest for the past two years. Istanbul shopping fest is 20 days shopping fest, where we have lucky draws every day and people can win every day.Has Turkey seen many repeat travellers from India?Turkey is  a destination which can’t be explored at one go. If you are curious about the country you have to definitely return. They visit Istanbul and when they return they tell their friends and start planning for other trips. I can’t say about promoting Turkey as a repeat destination because the numbers from India are still below our expectations.last_img

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