Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry Istanbul Directorate announced the number of foreign tourist arrivals for June.

Executives of the directorate said that Istanbul aimed to host 10 million tourists in 2010 as it would be the European Capital of Culture throughout the year.

However, the number of foreigners visiting the city was down 4.6 percent in the first half of 2010 over the same period of 2009.

Around 3,358,243 people visited Istanbul in the first half of 2010. 294,352 people preferred Istanbul as a tourist destination in January. This figure was 372,713 in February, 489,884 in March, 588,601 in April, 688,821 in May and 658,117 in June.

The German topped the foreigners visiting Istanbul in the mentioned period with 14 percent. The Russians followed the German with 6.3 percent, and then came the Italians with 5.4 percent. Other nationals choosing Istanbul as a tourist destination were Brits, Americans, French, Iranians, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainians, Azerbaijani, Belgians, South Koreans and Turkmens.

“The reason of this decrease is the continuation of economic crisis in European countries from where the highest number of tourists is visiting Istanbul,” Ahmet Emre Bilgili, the director of the local culture and tourism directorate in Istanbul, said.

Bilgili said the economic crisis urged Europeans to travel within European territories, and not to make touristic tours to foreign countries.

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Özgür Töre is the founder and managing editor of award-winning travel news website; Focus on Travel News – ftnNEWS.com and Arab Turkish Travel Gazette – www.arabturkishtravel.com. Mr. Töre is the co-founder of RusTourismNews.com and UkraineTravelNews.com Mr. Töre is a board member of Association of Tourism Writers and Journalists (TUYED) in Turkey and International Tourism Writers Alliance. He holds a Master’s Degree in Project Management from Istanbul Kültür University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Istanbul Bilgi University.