Two famous Turkish actors launched the Istanbul Shopping Festival (ISF) yesterday in Dubai as Turkey hopes to attract thousands of UAE residents this summer.
Shoppers spent 8 billion Turkish lira (Dh16.7bn) in 40 days last year at the festival, which is in its second year, and the organisers hope to achieve sales of 7bn lira this year in just 21 days.
The ISF hosted 5 million visitors last year and will run June 9-29 this summer.
"We want to have more tourists in Istanbul for shopping reasons," said Fusun Sonmez, the general manager for the event. "Istanbul is a big city, but we will spend a lot of money to paint it in the colours of ISF."
Shops will offer discounts of 50 per cent on purchases and the city will host street parties, live entertainment and concerts with famous Turkish singers.
Kivanc Tatlitug and Songul Oden, actors from a Turkish TV series called Noor in Arabic, yesterday launched ISF in Dubai in a bid to attract Arab nationals from around the Gulf to Istanbul, which has more than 100 shopping centres.
"In the first quarter of 2012, we have seen an 86 per cent increase in the number [of visitors] from the UAE. It was going up and up and will peak in June and July," said Sedat Gonulluoglu, the cultural attaché from the Turkish Consulate in Dubai. "Istanbul has lots of things to offer but ISF will be one more and I'm sure we will love ISF this year. It will be shorter, but more fun."
In addition to the discounts on offer, tourists will also be able to receive refunds on part of the tax they pay for goods at kiosks around the city.
Ms Sonmez visited the Dubai Shopping Festival (DFS) in January to witness the opening fireworks display and says she has learnt from its success.
"We have learnt a lot and we are still in the learning process from DSF and other shopping festivals," she said. "We would like to create a unique shopping festival because we have values different from the rest of the world."
The event is organised by the Turkish government, in conjunction with commercial bodies, and sponsored by Turkish Airlines.
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