Istanbul Steps Up

Istanbul’s position as a leading global events capital was cemented in mid-November 2012 as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) staged its Global Summit in Turkey’s iconic capital - giving further impetus to the city’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

More than 1,200 attendees from 155 countries, six Associate Members and over 400 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities gathered in Istanbul for the summit to hear a range of expert opinions from some of the world’s top leaders in the tourism industry.

Hosted at the Haliç Congress Centre on the banks of the Golden Horn, delegates enjoyed the rich cultural heritage that Istanbul has to offer. The event’s high-profile attendees included mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaþ; the minister of culture and tourism, Ertuðrul Günay; and UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai. In total, Istanbul has hosted more than 40 cultural, sporting, and tourism events in the last seven years, including the IAAF World Indoor Championships, the WTA Championships and Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon this year alone.

Hasan Arat, the leader of Istanbul’s Olympic campaign, was presenting at the Global Summit in his role as vice president of the TOBB Tourism Assembly and vice chairman of the UNWTO Affiliate Members. After the summit, he commented on Turkey’s thriving tourism industry and what it means for Istanbul’s bid:

“Tourism figures continue to illustrate that more and more people are being attracted to Turkey every year. Turkey will welcome a record 33m visitors this year – a 200% increase over the last decade. The huge investment that has already been made into Turkey’s tourism infrastructure demonstrates the country’s desire to deliver the best possible visitor experience. As a result, Istanbul is better placed now than it has ever been to deal with the demands placed on a city by hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.” 

Uður Erdener, IOC member and president of the Turkish NOC, spoke of the significance of Istanbul’s increasingly prominent role on the global events circuit: “As a city which has brought together people of different nationalities and cultures throughout its fascinating history, it is fitting that this summit, which involves the sharing and exchanging of knowledge and ideas, is held in Istanbul – the city where East meets West. Istanbul has now emerged as a global capital due to its central gateway location, diverse cultural attractions and world-class facilities. This has made the city an attractive destination for the world’s top international business and sporting events.”

The next major sporting event to come to Istanbul is the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships which will take place in the Sinan Erdem Dome – the proposed venue for Olympic and Paralympic basketball in 2020 – from 12-16 December 2012.

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