Manama: The number of Bahraini tourists opting to visit Turkey has increased by more than 700 per cent over the last ten years, the Turkish ambassador to Bahrain has said.

“We are pleased to witness the rapidly increasing touristic relations between Turkey and Bahrain which are two friendly countries with similar cultures and historical ties, in the recent years,” Hatun Demirer said. “The number of Bahraini visitors to Turkey reached 24,305 in 2014 from 3,155 in 2004. It is also a source of pride for Turkey to attract an increasing number of Bahraini nationals to buy properties in Turkey either as holiday homes or for investment purposes. This is a clear indication of the confidence of Bahrainis in Turkey’s economy and a strong sign that they feel at home in Turkey,” the ambassador said, quoted by the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Demirer, who in November 2013 became the second woman ambassador from Turkey to be appointed in Bahrain, said that Turkish Airlines has daily flights between Istanbul and Bahrain and that Turkey’s low-cost carrier company Pegasus launched its Bahrain flights on June 12 last year with three flights a week.

“Gulf Air is also operating on the same route and its has recently increased its frequency to seven flights a week. These flights are gradually pushing mutual visitors’ numbers upwards and they are clear manifestations of the keenness of both countries to enhance their tourism relations,” she said.

“Thus, the tourism field presents mutually beneficial partnership opportunities to Turkish and Bahraini private sectors. Bahrain’s focus on tourism and its drive to enhance and develop its tourism and hospitality sector as part of its economic diversification efforts means there is a great potential for cooperation with Turkey in this field,” she added.

Cooperation can be achieved mainly in terms of capacity-building, education, training and management. Tourism education and training is a well-established sector in Turkey, she added.

Ambassador Demirer said that Turkey’s tourism industry is one of the most advanced sectors in the country.

“With around 41 million tourists visiting the country in 2014, Turkey is the world’s sixth most popular tourism destination. Naturally, tourism is one of the leading sources of revenue for the Turkish economy. Our goal for the year 2023, when we will celebrate the centenary of the founding of our Republic, is to host 50 million tourists and to increase our revenues from tourism to $50 billion [Dh183 billion],” she said.

The ambassador added that tourism was among the most effective means to build robust bonds of mutual understanding, respect and friendship among nations.

“Tourism gives people the opportunity to have a first-hand and direct observation of the countries they are visiting. It also has a positive impact on international trade, as it increases public awareness of the economic strengths and potentials of other countries,” she said.

“We are also familiar with the preferences and requirements of tourists coming to Turkey from different parts of the world. In addition to being a magnet for traditional tourism, Turkey is an increasingly attractive destination for other aspects of modern tourism such as education, health and culture tourism. The improving numbers of summer camps and student exchange programmes between Turkish and foreign schools is impressively boosting youth tourism.”

There is a massive increase in the number of people from European, Asian and Middle Eastern countries who have travelled to Turkey for medical treatment and care, she added

“They want to avail of the opportunities to benefit from Turkey’s top-class but affordable health facilities and spas,” she said.