Shopping Tourism in Turkey

The annual report published by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (2015) shows that most international tourists visit Turkey for pleasure, or to attend cultural or sporting events, and very few (2.6 %) come to Turkey primarily for shopping (see Table 13.1).

Similarly, in a study conducted a few years ago, which investigated the motivation of tourists to visit Istanbul, we found that only 6.5 % of the tourists declared shopping as their primary or only motivator for tourism. However, as Table 13.2 shows, more than 57 % mentioned shopping as an activity they have done or intended to do while in Istanbul. The only tourist and leisure activity that has received more votes was the visitation of the main historical sites.

Table 13.1 Purpose of visit for international tourists entering Turkey Source Ministry of Culture and Tourism (2015)

Purpose of visit

Share of total (%)

Excursion, entertainment, culture, sports

59.0

Visiting relatives

8.4

Health

0.5

Religion

0.2

Shopping

2.6

Meeting, conference, duty, trade relations, fair

6.0

Transit

0.1

Education

0.5

Other

3.3

Group travel

19.4

Table 13.2 Activities tourists have done or intended to do while in Istanbul Sources First author’s own study

Activities (valid responses = 416)

Frequency

Percent

Visit the main historical sites

344

82.5

Take a tour of the Bosporus

235

56.3

Participate in sport events

22

5.3

Participate in cultural events

82

19.6

Participate in a conference

37

8.9

Visit an exhibition

85

20.4

Take a boat to the islands

116

27.9

Shop

238

57.1

Visit friends and relatives

65

15.6

Try the night life

138

33.1

Regardless of whether shopping is their primary or secondary motivation for travel, the combination of different types of outlets (malls, bazaars, wholesale, etc.) provides great shopping opportunities for anyone who decides to visit Turkey and most tourists are generally satisfied with their shopping experience (Egresi and Polat 2016). As this chapter has already ascertained, tourists shop for very different reasons. These reasons, as well as the tourists’ nationality, and the places visited will be important determinants of the type of shopping outlets tourists prefer (Kinley et al. 2012). For example, most cross-border shoppers prefer to shop in wholesale districts (such as Laleli or Merter in Istanbul) or in neighborhood bazaars, where they can find merchandise at bargain prices (Davidova 2010; Kremida 2007). Western tourists, many of whom shop for souvenirs and for the cultural experience, prefer to visit bazaars and other traditional markets (Kikuchi and Ryan 2007; Egresi 2015a). On the other hand, most tourists from the developing world prefer to shop in modern shopping centers and malls (Egresi 2015b; Egresi and Kara 2015). The reason may be that the first malls were opened in the USA and Western Europe so, in the eyes of people from the less developed countries, they are associated with the West (and, therefore, with development). For this reason, visitors from developing countries are more excited about visiting these modern forms of retail, whereas for tourists coming from Western countries, malls are symbols of globalization. For a Westerner, shopping in a mall deprives him or her of the cultural experience and could, therefore, be disappointing (Egresi 2015b).

 
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