Turkey Shifts Into High Gear

ISTANBUL , TURKEY , Sept. 22, 2005 – The scream of the engines of the world’s fastest cars reverberated across two continents when Formula 1 came to Istanbul for the first time Aug. 19 – 21. However, McLaren, Ferrari and the Formula 1 stars are not the only things going fast in Istanbul these days – so are prime dates for meetings and conventions, as Turkey shifts into high gear as one of the world’s most exciting and competitive conference and incentive destinations.

Turkey and Istanbul have always attracted purposeful gatherings, but hosting world-class events such as Formula 1 and the 25th Summer Universiade university games is raising that profile. Witness the list of top international conferences already booked through the next decade. Indeed, over the next four years 11 international conferences expecting at least 3,000 attendees each are scheduled in Turkey . One, 2006’s 31st Biennial Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology, anticipates 8,000.

Formula 1 brought more than 50,000 international visitors to Istanbul , where they not only saw an exciting race but had the chance to discover a city that effortlessly blends the modern with the ancient. One example is the new Istanbul Modern, a globally acclaimed modern art museum housed in Istanbul ’s historic port area, which has welcomed vessels from all over the world for nearly 1,000 years.

The largest event in Turkey ’s history, Formula 1 was a testimony to Istanbul ’s ability to accommodate tens of thousands of guests in style, not to mention a major boost to the city’s Olympic dreams. Another important showcase for Turkey ’s Olympic aspirations was the 25th Summer Universaide university games. Held in Izmir, the world’s second largest amateur sporting event (next to the Olympics) brought more than 5,000 athletes, plus nearly another 5,000 referees, coaches, managers and administrators, not to mention more than 1,000 media representatives, to the Aegean coast.

Nearly 60,000 conference delegates have already come to Istanbul this year, as have millions of leisure travelers for what has been a truly outstanding year in tourism. From the city’s 5-star hotels to the legendary Grand Bazaar, the signs of Istanbul ’s growing popularity are everywhere. In fact Travel + Leisure named Istanbul as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit in the magazine’s 10th annual World’s Best Awards readers poll.


Istanbul is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular international congress and exhibition destinations.  The city - a fantastic confection of East and West, the antique and the contemporary straddles two continents, while overlooking three waterways and boasts a fascinating mosaic of museums, mosques, palaces and bazaars.  For entertainment, Istanbul is home to venues that showcase everything from ballet to traditional folk dancing, plus modern discos, cabarets and jazz clubs.   There are 270 hotels ranked from five stars to “special” category translating to approximately 25,000 rooms and some 400 restaurants, which represent a vast culinary specter, from traditional Turkish cuisine to globally recognized fast-food outlets.

Adding to Istanbul ’s landscape of venues is the $150 million, 130,000 seat stadium, the Istanbul Otodrom, which broke ground on Sept. 10, 2003 to accommodate Formula 1. Istanbul also boasts six independent convention centers with capacities ranging from 500 to 10,500, totaling more than 40,000 seats.   The opening of the Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) in 1996 doubled the capacity of the city’s congress facilities.  ICEC's Rumeli Fair & Exhibition Hall features a 22,000 square foot ballroom, which includes simultaneous translation in eleven languages, full audio-visual support and divides easily into two smaller ballrooms using soundproof separators.   The Anadolu Auditorium seats 2,000 in armchair comfort and offers full 16 mm and 35 mm projection facilities to professionally tuned acoustics.   Furthermore, the ICEC’s five-star in-house food service is the only venue in Istanbul where 3,500 delegates can sit down together for a five-star gala dinner.

The Tuyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center is one of Istanbul ’s largest exhibition centers with 500,000 square feet of covered space.  The center provides 15 function rooms accommodating 100 to 10,000, secretarial services in English, Turkish and German, six multi-ethnic restaurants and a shuttle service from various points around the city to and from the Center.                        

The CNR International Exhibition Center boasts a 452,000 square foot exhibit area with a 46-foot high ceiling, five restaurants, four seminar rooms and a business center.  The site, serviced by a city shuttle, also includes Mydonose Showland, a giant show center established on a 172,000 square foot open area and an 86,000 square foot closed area with 5,500 seats. It has hi-tech stages, a 37,000 square foot foyer area with shops, cafes and bars and room backstage to accommodate long vehicles.

The Abdi Ipekci Sport Center is the city’s largest indoor arena, suitable for both sporting events and music concerts for up to 10,500.  

For smaller gatherings, the Sepetciler Kasri Pavilion recently renovated by the Swissotel offers function space for intimate dinner parties to formal business receptions. The pavilion combines 16th century majesty and the modern luxury of Swissotel standards. Poised to accommodate those seeking maritime adventures, exclusive sails on the Bosphorus are offered on Swissotel’s two luxurious private yachts which depart from the Sepetciler Kasri; they can accommodate up to 500. Another restoration, this of an ancient royal palace, the Sait Halim Pasa Mansion consists of nine spectacular halls, each with an elaborate theme from hunting to harems and availability for banquets, meetings and receptions up to 1,000. The Ataturk Cultural Center which houses a multi-purpose hall with a 1,307 seat capacity for opera, ballet and theater performances, a second hall with 502 seat capacity for meetings and conferences and a 13,000 square foot exhibition hall.  The Harbiye Cultural Center located opposite to the ICEC, has a main auditorium with 550 seats in amphitheatre style and three meeting rooms with capacities from 150 to 250. 

Istanbul ’s luxury hotels, including all of the major international chains such as the Conrad, Kempinski, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Hilton and Hyatt Regency also provide function venues on a smaller scale than many of the free-standing centers and have experienced sales and catering staffs to assist planners. For instance, the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul offers 25,986 square feet of meeting and convention space with a Grand Ballroom accommodating more than 800 people, eight separate meeting rooms seating from 10 to 70, a permanent boardroom for exclusive 10 person gatherings and several small pre-function areas overlooking the Bosphorus.

To facilitate planning, there are a number of experienced professional destination management firms that assist with local information, promotions, ground transportation, day-trip arrangements, program suggestions, accommodations, space availability and booking.


Izmir , Turkey ’s third largest city, boasts a port second only to that of Istanbul .  Commonly referred to as "Beautiful Izmir," it is situated at the head of a long, narrow gulf lined by ships and yachts.  Izmir offers a wealth of first-class accommodations with its 59 hotels and some 7,900 rooms, 51 multi-ethnic restaurants, contemporary conference facilities, beautiful settings and unequalled sightseeing attractions. The legendary cities of Troy , Aphrodisias, Pergamon and the world’s best-preserved classical city, Ephesus , are easily accessible for day trips.

The Izmir Efes Convention Center presents the most complete conference facilities including a stately 1,750-seat auditorium.  Reminiscent of the magnificent architecture of the Antique Theater in historic Ephesus, it is outfitted with a full range of audio-visual equipment and three sophisticated cameras that photograph from six different angles, enabling programs to be observed equally well from the foyers and the banquet halls.   It also houses smaller meeting rooms, such as The Ephesus Hall, seating 700, The Pergamum Hall, seating 400 and The Didyma Hall, seating 350.

For smaller events, Izmir offers convention centers and hotels with function spaces on a more intimate scale.  The Aegean University Ataturk Cultural Center has three halls with a total of 1,600 seats, the largest seating 654. Dokuz Eylul University Sabanci Cultural Center has two halls accommodating 538 and 124 respectively.  There are also major four and five star hotel chains that have meeting and exhibition capacities ranging from a few hundred up to 1,000.  


With its full range of accommodations and activities, warm hospitality and beaches basking in sunshine 300 days a year, Antalya is another sought-after meeting and conference destination.  Located on the Mediterranean, Antalya also offers bargain shopping for local treasures, 42 international restaurants, a diverse terrain affording endless sporting pursuits and ample opportunity to explore neighboring ancient monuments and cities such as Olympos National Park , Aspendos Theater and St. Nicholas Church.

Just opened this year, Kempinski Hotel The Dome, is located directly on the beach and the perfect destination for small to mid sized events. Boasting a nearly 6,000 square feet grand ballroom and two separate conference rooms, approximately 730 square feet each, in the heart of Turkey’s most historic region, the new addition to the Turkish Riviera is also nicknamed “Golfer’s Paradise,” with the rare privilege of access to Europe’s most sought-after and challenging courses, “The Sultan course” and “The Pasha course,” set at the foot of the hotel as an added bonus for guests.

For larger events the Talya Congress and Exhibition Center is located in the center of the city’s business, cultural and commercial districts and within walking distance of many historical sites.  The facility offers planners 10,000 seats and more than 18,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting facilities.

Av. Hasan Subasi Cultural Park , located in Antalya ’s culture- and tourism-oriented area of the Konyaalti district, houses the Antalya Cultural Center , the Glass Pyramid Sabanci Congress and Fair Center , as well as semi-covered and open air exhibition areas, an amphitheatre for 1,000 and recreational areas.  The Antalya Cultural Center is home to a 97,000 square foot closed area, an 11,000 square foot exhibition space and two halls; Perge Hall, seating 338 for conferences, seminars and panels and Aspendos Hall, seating 822 for theater performances, concerts and similar cultural activities.  The Glass Pyramid Sabanci Congress and Fair Center was opened in October 1997.  Within this area are three different levels of coffeehouses and restaurants, a children's amusement park and a running track.   There are five halls in the building, the largest on the ground floor seating 2,400.   The park is seven miles from Antalya Airport and in close proximity to 12 five-star hotels with more than 4,000 rooms, including the Sheraton Voyager’s 409, complemented by a 3,000 square foot exhibition area and the 483 at the Dedeman, which has 5,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The Antalya Expo Center was established by Anfas (Antalya Fair Management and Investment, Inc.) in April of 1999.  Situated on 700,000 square feet of land with a 70,000 square foot enclosed area, the Antalya Expo Center can accommodate up to 10,000.  The center is host to fairs, sports activities, concerts, theatrical performances and congresses, but can also accommodate smaller meetings with its three main halls and 18 committee rooms of various sizes seating up to 600.  In addition, the Antalya Expo Center is less than two miles from Antalya ’s international airport. Turkey is the birthplace of civilization.  It is no wonder that it is now where civilizations meet.   It is the site of two wonders of the ancient world, a present-day marvel, the very center of world history and a modern Westward-looking republic. It is a country of fascinating contrasts where antiquity is juxtaposed with the contemporary, the familiar with the exotic; where sun-swept beaches beckon less than an hour away from snow-capped mountains and everywhere visitors are treated to the extraordinary warmth of the Turkish people. 

For additional information on convention planning in Turkey , please visit booth number  3802 in the Europe Section at this year’s Motivation Show in Chicago .  In addition, please contact the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau at +90 (212) 343 0000 or on their website at www.icvb.org, the Izmir Convention & Visitors Bureau at +90 (232) 464 0348 and the Antalya Convention Bureau +90 (242) 322 4697 or at www.antalyaconvention.org.  Additional individual convention center information can be found at:  ICEC, www.icec.org; Tuyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center, www.tuyap.com; CNR International Exhibition Center, www.cnr.net; Glass Pyramid Sabanci Congress and Fair Center, http://www.altinportakal.org.tr/; Talya Congress and Exhibition Center, www.talya.com.tr and Antalya Expo Center, www.antalyaexpocenter.com

For information about travel to Turkey, call 1-877-FOR-TURKEY 
or contact the Turkish Culture and Tourism Offices in New York at 212-687-2194 
or in Washington D.C. at 202-612-6800 or in Los Angeles at 323-937-8066
and visit www.tourismturkey.org 
or www.kulturturizm.gov.tr


<- Back   


 The offical website of Turkish Culture and Tourism Office    |    821 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 Tel: 1-212-687-2194