By Ovunc Kutlu
North America’s largest travel show and trade conference, the New York Times Travel Show, kicked off Friday under the presenting sponsorship of Turkish Airlines, Turkey's flagship carrier.
Hosting more than 150 countries, the travel show has more than 560 booths and is expected to attract some 30,000 travelers and industry professional attendees through Sunday at the Jacob Javits Center in midtown Manhattan in New York.
Turkish Airlines was accompanied by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office, a silver sponsor of the show, once again this year.
At the entrance, the office's booth welcomed hundreds of attendees with Turkish delight and baklava, in addition to views of historic and cultural sites in Turkey, such as Cappadocia, Ephesus, and the Golden Horn.
Sedat Gonulluoglu, who heads the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in the U.S., also told people attending the show about Turkey.
"It is very important for Turkey, a great tourism country, to be here in Javits Center, here in New York," Turkish Consul General in New York Ertan Yalcin told Anadolu Agency.
"With its rich culture and history, Turkey is one of the most significant tourism destinations in the world, and the U.S. market is an important one for it," he said.
Yalcin said he expects the number of tourists from the U.S. to Turkey to rise in the years to come, adding that such travel shows in the U.S. would help that.
Many destinations, new Istanbul airport
Turkish Airlines New York CEO Cenk Ocal said the carrier, which flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, aims to bridge continents, connect countries, and unite communities.
"As the flagship carrier airline of our country, Turkish Airlines represents the best of Turkish culture and hospitality, delivered on a global scale," he said during his opening speech of the show.
Turkish Airlines beat expectations by carrying a total of 68.6 million passengers in 2017. This number is estimated to reach 74 million in 2018 with the opening of a new airport in Istanbul later this year, according to Ocal.
"The first phase of Istanbul's new airport will open with a passenger capacity of 90 million, and a total of 200 million upon completion," Ocal said.
"Three times the size of Beijing Airport, aircraft taking off from Istanbul's new airport will be flying to more than 350 destinations all over the world, which will make it the world's largest air hub," he added.
Turkish Airlines currently flies to nine different destinations in the U.S., including three daily flights to New York City.