Says bill was passed to clamp down on privacy violations, not to crackdown on freedom of speech.
Museums in Turkey were visited by nearly 30 million people in 2013, according to a report issued by the Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB). The highest increase in the number of visitors was seen at Topkapı Palace, due to its Harem. While the number of visitors to the Harem exceeded over 1 million people for the first time, the total number of visitors to Topkapı Palace was above 3,397 people. Therefore, on the list of the most-visited museums, Topkapı Museum left behind the Hagia Sophia Museum, which topped the list in 2011 and 2012.
TÜRSAB, which operates 50 museums and has modernized 105 museums and ancient sites, increased the income of museums to 263.3 million Turkish Liras in the same period.
According to the report, when the increase in the number of museum visitors is compared to the number of foreign visitors to Turkey, it yields good results. Turkish museums and ancient sites, which hosted nearly 7 million people in the beginning of the 2000s, welcomed 29,533 million visitors by the end of 2013. According to the data of TÜRSAB and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, 69 percent of visitors were foreigners and 31 percent were nationals.
44 percent of visitors head for Istanbul sites
In 2013, 44 percent of all museum visits was in the Istanbul area. Some 8.9 million people visited the museums in the Istanbul area, which was followed by the Aegean & Seljuk area with 2.9 million visitors. Cappadocia ranked third on the list with 2.5 million visitors and was followed by western Antalya with 1.9 million visitors, the Anatolian region with 1.2 million visitors, eastern Antalya with 1.1 million and the Aegean & Bergama area with 1 million.
Nearly 75 percent of total museum visits took place via agencies or tickets bought at the entrance. The other 25 percent included free entries and Müzekart entries.
While the Istanbul museums were flooded by locals and foreigners in 2013, it is not possible to say the same thing for the capital of Turkish tourism, Antalya and its vicinity, according to the report.
In 2013, a total of 3,145,057 people visited museums in Antalya, but the number of visitors to the city was 11,120 tourists and it broke its own record.
The Museums Report shows the ancient cities located on the coastline of the Mediterranean had the lowest number of visitors. The most crucial reason for this was the high temperature in the region during the daytime. These places are not included in the travel programs of tourism agencies.
Basilica Cistern attracts most foreign visitors
Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı), one of the magnificent historical constructions in the city, attracted over 2 million visitors last year, 1.7 million of whom were foreigners.
The Basilica Cistern Director Celalettin Deniztoker said the cistern, which was built in 542 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to provide water to the palace, and is known to the public as “the Sinking Palace.” The cistern was not used by the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Istanbul.
He said the number of visitors to the cistern was on the rise every year, and continued, “The Basilica Cistern was restored and opened to tourism by the Istanbul Municipality in 1987. It has huge potential for tourism and increases the number of its visitors every year. Last year, its visitors reached over 2 million and broke its own record once again. The cistern is one of the top three most visited places in the city. Four in every five visitors are foreigners. Out of 2.1 million visitors, 1.75 million were foreigners.”