By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - Two top tourist-draw Turkish cities led the way for fastest growth in 2018, beating out their European rivals, the World Travel and Tourism Council announced on Friday.
The GDP for Istanbul, the Turkish metropolis, and Antalya, a top Mediterranean resort, coming from direct travel and tourism grew 15.7% and 15.5% annually, respectively. The figure was far above the average of the 73 cities (3.6%) analyzed in a report by the council.
"This reflects the continued recovery of Turkish travel and tourism, driven by safety improvements and the depreciation of its currency, making the country more attractive to foreign visitors," it said.
Four out of the 10 fastest-growing cities in 2018 were in Europe, the report said.
The third-fastest growing city last year was Moscow, expanding by 13.7% thanks to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Budapest, Hungary placed 10th for year-on-year growth at 8.5%.
The report underlined that travel and tourism accounts for 10.4% of GDP and one in 10 jobs worldwide.
Shanghai ($35.9 billion), Paris ($35.6 billion), and Beijing ($33.2 billion) have the top three largest travel and tourism economies.
International visitors accounted for 45% of tourism spending across the 73 cities in the report, compared to 29% for economies worldwide.
International visitor spending is more important to cities than it is to countries as a whole, as it helps pay for city infrastructure projects as well as public workers and services that improve the quality of life for residents.
Hong Kong boasted the highest international visitor spending in 2018 ($44 billion), followed by Macau, China ($36 billion), and Dubai
Seven out of the top 10 cities ranked for their reliance on international visitor spending were located within Europe, with Dublin and Dubrovnik, Croatia both over 95% reliant.
Venice, Budapest, Istanbul, Prague, and London were similarly reliant on international visitor spending, with 84-93% of spending coming from international visitors to these cities.