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Travel

Istanbul draws wealthy Gulf tourists

Due to turmoil in the Arab world, Istanbul has become an ever more popular destination for tourists from wealthy Gulf countries.

Istanbul has become a hub for Arab tourists. According to the state office of culture and tourism in Istanbul, nearly a million visitors from wealthy Gulf countries have visited the city this year.

The number of visitors from Saudi Arabia has tripled since 2010. Tourists from the Gulf states now represent the third largest group of foreign visitors to the Turkish metropolis, following Germany and Iran. Istanbul's popularity with tourists from Gulf states is especially important for the city right now, given that vacationers from Russia are likely to grow scarcer in the wake of the downing of a Russian military jet over Turkey.

In the past, tourists from Gulf states often vacationed in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia. Given the current turmoil, those destinations have become too dangerous. Beirut was once also a popular destination. But with the renewed strength of the Shiite Hezbollah militia, Sunni Arabs from Gulf states are also avoiding the Lebanese capital.

at/ks (dpa)