Shopping and Tourism in Turkey: The Perfect Combination

Istvan Egresi and Serdar Arslan


Shopping makes for a significant part of the tourist experience and, in some cases, could also constitute the main motivating factor for travel (Timothy 2005; Timothy and Butler 1995a, b). As a matter of fact, for many tourists, a vacation would be inconceivable without some shopping (Turner and Reisinger 2001). For example, almost 55 % of the tourists interviewed in a mall in South Florida declared that shopping was important to them (Park et al. 2010).

It is well known that people usually spend more time and money on shopping when traveling to other places than when in their home environment (Jansen-Verbeke 1991; Oh et al. 2004; Timothy 2005). As a global average, tourists spend approximately one-third of their budget on shopping (Chang et al. 2006); however, the proportion of the travel budget dedicated to shopping could be much higher when visiting countries in which shopping is a major tourist attraction (Turner and Reisinger 2001). Also, in general, Asian tourists tend to spend a larger proportion of their travel budget on shopping than their European of North American counterparts (Wong and Wan 2013; Choi et al. 2008).

Many studies have recognized the impact tourist shopping could have on boosting the appeal of the destinations, on generating local economic growth, and on creating new sources of revenue (Perdomo 2014). Having understood the [1]

spending potential of tourists, many communities have invested heavily in the development of a strong retail sector that is supposed to attract more visitors to the community, and, once there, make them want to stay longer and spend more by offering them enhanced shopping experiences (Perdomo 2014).

Tourists shop for a diversity of goods, ranging from handicrafts (Evans 2000) to luxury items (Park et al. 2010). Often times, the development of shopping tourism could stimulate local production. For example, demand for locally made handicrafts could be an important source of income for local artisans (Evans 2000). Therefore, tourism shopping could have a significant impact on the development of the retail sector in destination areas (Turner and Reisinger 2001; Lin and Lin 2006), as well as an important economic impact on host communities (Lin and Lin 2006; Wong and Law 2003). For this reason, the local authorities are interested in developing a diversity of shopping venues that would not only increase retail sales and sustain local economic development, but would also increase the attractiveness of the location in the eyes of tourists (Oh et al. 2004).

Situated at the intersection of numerous trade routes (such as the “Silk Road”) between Europe and Asia, and between Russia and the Middle East, Turkey has always been an important place for shopping. Particularly, Istanbul (Constantinople/Byzantion) has been an important trade point over the last 2000 years between Europe and the Middle East (and beyond). According to Keyder (1999: 4), the city:

[...] was not only a consumer of imports, it also served as the biggest mart in the region. Merchants and travelers arrived from all over to buy and sell; everything could be found in its markets, brought from China, India, Persia, Caucasus, Russia, Egypt and Syria and then from the Balkans, Genoa and Venice and points to the west. For most of its imperial history, its location made it the largest permanent market place in the area between India and the Western Europe.

Over the last decade or so, the construction of modern shopping centers has boomed not only in Istanbul, but across the entire country, as well. The main result is that Istanbul has been transformed into a shopping attraction with global appeal, according to Butler’s (1991) six-hierarchy order classification.

The purpose of this chapter is to determine the development potential of shopping tourism in Turkey. The chapter will further proceed as follows. After a short review of the literature on tourism and shopping, we will examine the main resources for shopping tourism in Turkey, focusing on three types of outlets: traditional bazaars and craft shops (preferred by Western tourists), malls, and other modern shopping centers (preferred by tourists from the Middle East and the developing world), and wholesalers and cheap neighborhood bazaars (preferred by cross-border shoppers). The main source of information for this chapter is the public domain, supplemented by the results of the first author’s previous studies on shopping tourism in Istanbul.

  • [1] Egresi (H) • S. Arslan Department of Geography, Fatih University, 34500 Buyukcekmece, Istanbul, Turkey e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it S. Arslan e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2016 I. Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_13
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