Süleyman Canidemir of the Turkish Consulate General in Toronto with Derya Serbetci Acar & Gülberk Aşyapar of the Association of Turkish Travel Agents
Turkish Airlines’ Torem Sumer, Sales & Traffic Officer and David Batey
Donna Stockwell & Steve Bico (left and right) of Lakeview travel with Turkish artists Feyza and Hacer Ozcan
The weather may have been springlike - and the turnout was even more impressive, as some 80 Toronto and area agents showed up for a full day of training and networking with suppliers from across Turkey.
The room in the Woodbine Convention Centre near the airport was abuzz as agents enjoyed presentations from diplomatic and tourism hosts and participated in a mini trade show with some 20 suppliers representing the breadth and depth of the country.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” Derya Serbetci Acar, the Director of the Turkish Consulate General told me. “Many Europeans think of us as a beach destination, but Canadians are interested in our rich culture, diversity and history. This event today allows us to inform agents that there’s more to Turkey than Istanbul, even more than the Blue Mosque or Grand Bazaar.” Some 50 agents had RSVP’d for a similar event in Montreal the following evening.
Turkey is sort of “exotic light” and a perfect choice for the client who’s been to Europe a couple of times and is looking for something a little less on the beaten path. As Steve Bico and Donna Stockwell of Lakeview Travel, who travelled in from St. Catharines for the event, put it, “Boomers want to go where they haven’t been.” And thanks to all those British sunseekers, English is widely spoken in all tourist areas.
Turkish Airlines (TK) clearly sees the potential, and not just for leisure clients. They’re featuring Istanbul on non-stop B777 service 6 days a week from YYZ and thrice weekly from YUL on A330s, and have just appointed as Corporate Sales Manager industry veteran David Batey, who feels there’s a huge potential because of the mining, exploration and machinery connections between our countries.
Last year some 180,000 Canadians visited Turkey. Don’t be surprised to see that number go up this year!