Soap Opera Drives Increase in Arab Holidaymakers Visiting Turkey

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In one of the stranger trends experienced by the holiday industry in recent years, a Turkish soap opera is bringing in thousands of Arab tourists to the country.

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These kinds of trends aren't as rare as people might think, the industry sees spikes like this all the time, while certain media exposure can lead to a permanent boost for particular destinations

Turkey is currently seeing an influx of tourists from its Arab neighbours, which industry insiders are putting down to the continuing popularity of imported Turkish soap operas such as Noor, also helped by both Ankara’s recent decision to relax visa requirements for some countries, and the ready availability of cheap Turkey holidays across the Arab market. Compared to 2009, Turkey has seen a 33 percent increase in tourists from Arab countries, with 105,000 visitors arriving in May.

Though the series has since ended, with the finale attracting 85 million viewers across the Arab world, its effects are still being felt across the Turkish tourism industry, with large numbers of visitors avoiding the traditional sights of Istanbul in favour for locations featured in the shows.

“These kinds of trends aren’t as rare as people might think, the industry sees spikes like this all the time, while certain media exposure can lead to a permanent boost for particular destinations,” says Ian Raine of holiday experts “Just look at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland - The Da Vinci Code helped transform it into a multi-million pound tourist attraction, bringing in 1,000 tourists a day compared to a handful previously. This so-called “soap opera effect” is having a massive impact - the inter-Arab market for all inclusive Turkey holidays has risen by some 50 per cent over the past two years.”

Under its original Turkish name Gümüs, the soap opera ran from 2005 to 2007, but became a pop-culture phenomenon when it began being broadcast across the Arab world last year as Noor (“light”). Starring Kivanç Tatlitug and Songül Öden, Noor challenges Arab norms, particularly the traditional balance of power between husband and wife, prompting Saudi Arabia's top judge Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan to call for the deaths of owners of stations broadcasting the show.

“Despite all the controversy, it’s not going to stop people from booking a Turkey holiday ,” continues Raine. “Certainly, it’s not stopped the rise in babies being named after the show’s principal characters!”

Information for editors: is part of The Holiday Discount Centre, a member of ABTA (J4901) and Advantage (the largest travel consortium in the UK). Based in the UK, they have over 30 experienced travel advisors and have booked over 300,000 passengers via the internet. are not owned by any major tour operator, allowing them to offer free impartial travel advice and promote a wider range of holiday offers from various suppliers including Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook and many more.

What makes prices stand out from the crowd is not only do they offer already cheap holiday deals, they also offer an extra on-line discount plus a price guarantee. Their website allows customers to have full flexibility in their search criteria giving something more than just a bog standard one/two week holiday. With deals like this, why would you want to search for a holiday elsewhere?

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Ian Raine
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