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Turkish property market expecting boost from increased visitors

Tourism officials expect the number of tourists to increase significantly in 2009 and again in 2010 when Istanbul becomes European Capital of Culture.

Overall figures from the Turkish tourism department indicate that visitor numbers are predicted to rise by 10% this year bringing in billions of dollars worth of revenue.

Tourism minister Ertugrul Gunay said the latest figures are expected to show that tourism revenues were $20.5 billion in 2008, up from $18.5 billion in 2007. The data is also expected to reveal that there were 26 million tourists visiting Turkey in 2008 compared with 23.5 million in the previous year, placing the country among the top 10 destinations in the world.

The country's ancient history is likely to come to the fore with a series of events that are being planned for 2010. Officials are ready to use Istanbul's famous views across the Bosophorus as a marketing tool.

At the same time property prices have been falling like many other parts of Europe and are set to become even more attractive to foreign real estate investors especially those from the UK as the pounds continues to be weak against the euro and the dollar.

'While the expense of property in Istanbul may previously have prevented some buyers from entering the market, the economic slowdown has recently pushed prices down, creating bargains in desirable locations,' said one agent in Istanbul.

Also the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is compiling a list of reputable property professionals for British buyers to consult following an increase in the number of complaints about buying property.

Turkey has been plagued with developers not handing over title deeds, properties being sold twice to different people and real estate agents disappearing with deposits.

In the absence of the Turkish authorities doing anything concrete to make the property market more transparent the FCO is issuing advice that property investors should only consider dealing with companies that are on the list.

At the same time officials in Turkey are urging organisations including the Real Estate Dealers Association to consider tighter regulation and discussions at government level are expected soon.