DALLAS — Trading the banks of the Bosphorus for those of Biscayne Bay, Turkish Airlines (TK) hosted an exclusive Miami gala dinner on Tuesday evening to highlight a broader campaign to attract 2 million American tourists to Türkiye in 2023.
The gala dinner kicked off under the illumination of colors that evoked auras of Miami Vice amid the backdrop of the nighttime Miami skyline. Stepping inside, your Airways correspondent discovered an array of illuminated palm trees and light displays highlighting beautiful locations across Türkiye from Antalya to Göbeklitepe and beyond.
Held just ahead of the prestigious Art Basel festival, “Turquoise,” a model Turkish Airlines aircraft crafted with Post-It® notes by artist Ardan Özmenoğlu, took center stage. Designed to represent traditional Anatolian patterns, the turquoise color scheme appeared to not only represent the Turkish banks of the Bosphorus and the Mediterranean Sea but also those of the Miami waterfront.
Turkish Airlines Chairman Dr. Ahmet Bolat soon arrived and greeted the media amid the crowd that included Turkish celebrities Cansu Dere, Melis Sezen, and Kerem Bürsin. American celebrity Carlos Ponce also made an appearance.
Dr. Bolat gave a welcoming speech, thanking the celebrities, many of whom are popular in the Americas, before highlighting the “enormous historical heritage and the unique position straddling two continents” that enables Türkiye to provide “visitors of every age and background something that is memorable and delightful.”
He highlighted the fact that TK flies “to more countries than any other airline” before continuing and saying that the TK “network comprises 129 countries and 340 destinations as of now and will remain increasing.” When Airways interviewed Dr. Bolat in May 2022 the airline flew to 128 countries. TK reached 129 countries with the June 2022 inauguration of service to Juba (JUB) in South Sudan. TK currently flies to 12 U.S. destinations.
Dr. Bolat said that TK has “an unparalleled brand experience that stems from our very culture of hospitality and welcomeness.” He further highlighted the position of Türkiye as both a European and Asian country that enables visitors to appreciate a deep sense of diversity from the cultural and culinary to architectural realms as they visit the country.
Furthermore, he highlighted the “brand new Istanbul Airport (IST)” as among the most advanced and busiest airports “located right between the continents” before describing it as “a modern marvel to be experienced personally.” Dr. Bolat said the airport provides “access to 66 countries with a five-hour flight” along with an increase in “much-needed capacity.”
Dr. Bolat concluded by remarking that the gala dinner represented a “true cultural exchange,” representing the TK commitment to “connecting worlds,” and expressed a desire that attendees leave with “a fond memory of Turkish tradition and hospitality” via the sharing of “art, food, and music.”
Actor Morgan Freeman then appeared via a video message where he wished guests a great evening and described his honor of supporting TK “through its continued growth and expansion.” He additionally described the event as a representation of the airline in terms of “grandeur and evolution as an esteemed household name in global travel.”
Guests then participated in a raffle with the opportunity to win different Turkish trips, ranging from an Antalya Golf Tour Holiday Package to an Executive Check-up Program. The Executive Check-up Program as a package includes a hotel stay and a TK roundtrip to Istanbul along with a city tour and comprehensive health check-up.
The Executive Check-up Program is part of “Heal in Türkiye,” an initiative aimed at increasing global medical tourism to the country with a specific emphasis on tripling the number of American medical tourists to Türkiye in 2023.
Following the raffle, a meal was topped off with a choice of Turkish desserts, including şöbiyet, baklava, and fıstık sarma. Tea served in traditional Turkish glasses further promoted a sense of cultural exchange while evoking auras of Istanbul.
Live music accompanied the gala throughout the evening. A combination of traditional Turkish music from a band along with a series of solo classical performances by pianist Ayşe Deniz Gökçin further spurred a sense of connection between east and west.
As the music played guests from the Turkish and American media, business, and cultural communities exchanged ideas under a sense of connectivity spurred by TK.
Emre Ismailoglu, the TK General Manager in New York, along with an official from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism walked between tables and conversed with guests.
As the evening drew to a close and conversations wound down, the waters of Biscayne Bay appeared to echo those of the Bosphorus. Their flows, whether they involve massive container ships making long journeys between North and South America or small ferries making short 15-minute hops between Europe and Asia, represent currents of global connectivity.
TK, like both the Bosphorus and Biscayne Bay, represents an integral platform connecting cultures and peoples from across the globe via an IST hub. However, it is important to remember that the Bosphorus also opens the Black Sea to the world and engenders a resulting sense of openness.
Beyond utilizing the airline for global connection, Americans can also experience a sense of intense openness by spending time in Türkiye. The question of whether TK will transport 2 million American tourists to Türkiye in 2023 remains open, but with more U.S. routes on the way, the airline appears well-positioned to do so.
Airways will publish an overview of the connection between TK and Turkish medical tourism later in December.
Featured image: “Turquoise” by artist Ardan Özmenoğlu, who utilized Post-It® notes to depict a Turkish Airlines aircraft. Photo: Brent Foster/Airways