Ertugrul Karaoglu – CEO, Intra Tourism Group

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With more and more tour operators offering product in Turkey and airlines following suit with direct routes, this fascinating destination has never been hotter. Helping to ensure travellers receive the best experience on the ground is Intra Travel Ltd, a destination management company. We sit down with Ertugrul Karaoglu, CEO Intra Tourism Group, who shares his thoughts on how travel agents can better sell Turkey and why it makes for an unforgettable vacation.

1. What is Intra and how can it help Canadian travel agents sell Turkey to their clients?

Intra is a destination management company that has been providing on-site services throughout Turkey since 1980. Our services include, but not limited to, accommodation, transfers, excursions, escorted tours, group travel, Turkish Gulet Yacht holidays and luxury services. Intra can help Canadian travel agents with all these products and services. We can also help them create special tailor-made itineraries to fit their customers’ expectations.

2. When would be the best time to visit Turkey in 2014?

Turkey is a year-long destination for tourism. It is one of the best seaside vacation destinations in the Mediterranean region due to its sunny climate in the summer period. Spring and autumn are perfect for mild weather lovers, with beautiful clear weather and temperatures hovering around 22 degrees. Also, the weather in Istanbul and major tourist destinations very rarely drop below zero degree Celsius, which provides a good climate even in winter time. As of autumn 2014, we will also be offering winter resorts for short and long stay programs.

Cappadocia

3. If a client has already been to Turkey and has visited major cities like Istanbul, Ephesus and Bodrum, where would you suggest they visit on a return week-long trip?
One of the key destinations in Turkey that should be on any traveller’s must-visit list is definitely Cappadocia. Cappadocia is a stunning area of Central Turkey famed for its other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings, the scale of which is overwhelming. It was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3,000 rock churches in this region. Some have amazing frescoes, which have been extremely well preserved.

Also southeastern and eastern Turkey have well hidden secrets from empires that have settled in these regions: Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. There have been recent archeological discoveries at a site in the region known as Göbekli Tepe, which is currently the oldest known archeological site containing evidence of significant and prolonged construction activity by humans. The site was built about 12,000 years ago, was active for over 3,000 years and then methodically covered up in the 8th millennia BC. Its excavation contradicted the then popular view that an established agricultural system was necessary for large-scale mobilization and co-operation amongst human beings.

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4. What tips would you give to travel agents on how to effectively sell Turkey?
The most important thing they have to keep in mind is that Turkey is a country for all tastes; whether clients expect a relaxing seaside vacation or a cultural tour they can find it here. If they deliver their clients’ expectations accordingly, they will receive what they expect and even more. Also another key point is that Turkey is a perfect combination destination with Greece, Israel and other Eastern Mediterranean destinations since all these countries have a shared history and culture dating back to ancient times. With this opportunity, travel agents may offer their clients two countries just in one vacation.

5. What is one thing that most travellers will be surprised to learn about Turkey?

Cultural diversity is the most fascinating thing about Turkey, even for people coming from big multicultural cities. Due to its bridging location between Asia and Europe, Turkey, especially Istanbul, was and still is a home for different societies and their traditions. It is very interesting to find different cultures co-existing and even influencing each other after living side by side in a safe environment.

IntraTeam