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Shopping Festivals

Many destinations have integrated tourist shopping within their official policies on local tourism development (Jansen-Verbeke 1991) and the development of economic relations between countries (Vestnik Kavkaza 2010). As part of the promotional strategy (Timothy 2005), shopping festivals have become a common tool (Henderson et al. 2011). For example, in Dubai, tourist spending contributes significantly to the local retail revenue. In order to better capitalize on this resource, the government of Dubai and local retail companies are organizing three major shopping events in the Emirate, namely: Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprise, and Eid in Dubai (Peter and Anandkumar 2011), thereby creating a brand association and positioning Dubai as a global shopping destination (Peter et al. 2013). Shopping tourism in Dubai generally refers to malls, and the three shopping events have significantly increased the number of international shoppers. Festival organizers work with 7000 retailers (Vel et al. 2014). In 2009, more than 3.3 million tourists visited Dubai during the Dubai Shopping Festival, spending approximately AED 10 billion (Saleem 2010). The Dubai Shopping Festival has played a very important role in transforming Dubai into a global shopping destination (Vel et al. 2014). Other such festivals in the Middle East are Sharjah Spring Promotion (SSP, also in the UAE), Qatar Summer Wonders, and Riyadh Festival for Shopping and Leisure (in Saudi Arabia) (Peter et al. 2013). In Southeast Asia, each year, Malaysia organizes the 11-week Mega Sale Carnival. In 2012, of the USD20 billion spent by the 25 million international tourists in Malaysia, 30 % was on shopping (Perdomo 2014).

An important goal for Turkish shopping centers is to attract visitors from countries, such as Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Greece (Business Year 2014). For this purpose, shopping festivals are believed to be very efficient instruments. Istanbul Shopping Fest was started in 2011 and lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Later on, the event was shortened to about three weeks. During the festival, all participating shops offer special discounts. The festival is very popular with foreign visitors because they can shop tax-free. The festival includes long shopping nights on Saturdays, when some malls are open until 2 AM. This makes Istanbul malls hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. For example, in 2011, during the first shopping night, more than 100,000 people visited Istinye Park and Torium Mall (Maden 2011).

In 2012, 940,000 tourists participated in the Istanbul Shopping Fest and spent eight billion Turkish Lira (Jones 2012). In 2013, Istanbul Shopping Fest was expected to attract 1.1 million tourists who would spend 500 million Turkish Lira (Gurel 2013). Since 2014, not only malls and large shopping centers are involved in the organization of Istanbul Shopping Fest, but also high street retail shops, which close two hours later than usual (Business Year 2014).

Another shopping festival has been organized each year since 2012, in Istanbul’s Laleli District, in May and June. There are many wholesale companies in this formerly quiet residential neighborhood located very close to the city’s historic center. Many of these companies participate in this festival in which new designs of high-quality brands are exhibited. Delegations from other countries are invited to participate and sign contracts with the more than 7000 businesses that are active in Laleli.

Another shopping festival is held annually at various dates in the Galata District—the Galata Moda Shopping Fest where the work of many talented designers is exhibited. A more recent and more specialized shopping festival is the Wedding Shopping Fest, offering a wide range of wedding preparation products and services at discounted prices. Many shops, from different areas of Istanbul, participate in the festival, such as the high street shops on Abdi Ipekci Street, in Ni^antasi District (on the European side) or on Bagdat street, in Kadikoy District (on the Asian side). Several malls, such as Istinye Park, also participate.[1]

Other shopping festivals in Turkey are organized in Ankara, Izmir, and Van. Ankara Shopping Fest is held every year in July. It also includes a series of concerts and other cultural programs. Thanks to the shopping fest, the number of domestic tourists to Ankara increased by 20 % (Tayfun and Arslan 2013). The goal of the organizers is to attract one million tourists or more and to increase sales revenue by 35 % (Anadolu Jet Magazine 2012). Izmir Outlet Shopping Fest is a three-day event organized in Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey, in which attendees can buy various products, from clothing to furniture and cosmetics, at discounted pri- ces.[2] Van Shopping Fest is the newest shopping festival organized in Eastern Anatolia’s largest city. It started in 2015 and is organized around the Nowruz holiday in Iran, from where it hopes to attract many visitors.

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