Travel curators say customers refer to footage from OTTs or videos on YouTube.
Dibyoshnata, a 36-year-old IT professional, recently approached a travel agent in Bengaluru to curate a Turkish holiday package. It was an all-women tour. She made her intentions clear: That she is willing to spend as long as she and her friends get to visit the spectacular spots that appear on their favourite Turkish TV series, now available on OTTs like Netflix.
More than just exploring cuisines and stays at star properties, high-spending Indian travellers are looking at immersive, instagrammable experiences, which they’ve witnessed on OTTs.
The Indian craze for Turkish TV series is visibly evident in Google Search trends. Viewers in India download streaming platforms like ExpressDizi, Dailymotion, YouTube, Promix TV, Turkfans, AR Dirilis Ertugrul so they could watch Turkish shows with subtitles. The most-watched Turkish series in India are Barbaroslar Akdeniz’ın Kılıcı, Kuzey Güney, Adını Feriha Koydum, Aşk Laftan Anlamaz, Little Lord, among others.
The spectacular filming locations of these series have inspired many to visit Turkey.
“Cave hotels in Cappadocia are a must-try,” says Sanjar Imam, Founder-Director, Panache World, one of the most sought-after luxury travel companies in India.
“The Museum Hotel is my favourite. Besides being a cave hotel, it is also a treasure trove of antiquities. Turkey is a wholesome destination that offers stunning landscape, history, and culture. It really depends on the depth of immersion and the time at hand. Istanbul and Cappadocia are, of course, the top-most on the list. However, if one has more time, a visit to Kusadasi, Ephesus, and Pamukkale is suggested. Rounding it off with a couple of days, or longer, in Bodrum sums up the trip nicely,” he says.
High-spending luxury travellers are also exposed to newer routes along the Western Black Sea — Bolu, Bartin, and Safranbolu. As an undiscovered paradise, its proximity to Istanbul and its natural wonders is a haven for luxury travellers.
Nagsri Prasad Sashidhar, Chief Happiness Officer, NAGSRI-Creating Special Memories, says that having great flight connections from India motivates many to take a trip to Turkey.
“I normally include off-the-beaten-track experiences and some of the experiences would be hot air ballooning, hammam baths, whirling dervishes in a traditional tavern, pottery making, walking tours along the old quarters, and spending time like a local on Prince Island. Having great flight connections from India, Turkey does well with all segments, including couples, honeymooners, small families, FITs, and MICE.” she says.
Live like a local
What the luxury customers of today seek is ‘Live-like-a-local’ experiences. In fact, an online platform called WithLocals is connecting people with cultures by breaking down barriers between travellers and locals worldwide.
The platform is a wonderful way for guests to explore not only the highlights but also the hidden gems of a city with their private local host. This way, the platform enables locals to earn an income by sharing their city and its attractions, including the ones that appear on TV/OTTs.
Turkish destinations that were made popular through TV/web series include Anadolu Hisarı, Reyhanlı district of Hatay, Belenidik village of Pozanti, İstiklal Street, Kumbaracı Yokuşu, Cihangir, Tarlabaşı, and old houses in Samatya, Fenerbahçe Coast, Bebek, Polonezköy, Nevşehir, Ürgüp, Uç Hisar, Göreme, Zelve, among others.
Brands like Luxury Istanbul offer unique experiences like the Vintage Car Tour, which is the most authentic way to enjoy the magnificent historical legacy left by both the Byzantium and Ottoman Empire. The company rents out legendary cars of 1940s, 50s and 60s, including Rolls-Royce, Cadillac, Ford Thunderbird, Eldorado, and Buick Super Riviera. The guests can explore the exquisite wonders of Turkey on these chauffeur-driven vintage cars.
Ebru on YouTube
Luxury Istanbul offers a traditional water painting experience called Ebru. This Turkish tradition dates back to the Ottoman Empire, who used Ebru to decorate the spines of books with colourful designs. Mind-blowing patterns are created by sprinkling and brushing colour pigments on a pan of oily water and then transforming this pattern to a special paper. Each work of Ebru is unique and cannot be created a second time. Ebru art on YouTube is watched by millions across the world. It’s a rage among Indians too.
The workshops are popular among young generation and women. Through this art practice, they get to learn the history, and philosophy of Turkish water marbling. Research has proved that this art has therapeutic effects.
With Turkey relaxing all Covid-19 related travel restrictions for Indian visitors, the country hosted the highest ever number of travellers from India, in June. Turkey received more than 27,300 Indian tourists in June, breaking all the previous inbound travel records from India, in a single month.