Our Founder

Erkunt ONER
TURA TURIZM, Chairman and CEO

Erkunt Oner, born in 1944 in Sivas, Turkey was a visionary leader in the travel industry. From his early days as a high school student passionate about tourism, Mr. Oner’s dedication to the field grew exponentially. At just 21 years old, while studying law at Ankara University, he received the first-ever ‘Tourist Guide License’ issued by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism. His academic pursuits also led him to Brussels, where he completed a Tourism Training Program in 1964, supported by a scholarship from the Belgian government. He later earned a degree in International Relations from the prestigious ‘École des Hautes Études Internationales’ at the Université de Sorbonne in 1972.

In 1966, Mr. Oner founded TURA TURIZM, an inbound and outbound tour operator headquartered in Istanbul. Over the next five decades, under his leadership, TURA TURIZM blossomed into one of Turkey’s largest tour operators, with over 130 employees and branches in Kusadasi and Antalya.

The company has been recognized globally, earning more than 70 awards for exceptional quality and customer service, including being named “Supplier of the Year” by SEATRADE in 2007 and receiving numerous awards from major cruise lines. Some of these awards include “Innovative ShoreEx of the Year” award for 8 consecutive years between 2008 – 2015. In 2013, the company has also received the “Most Innovative Tour Idea” and “Shore Excursions Managers’ Choice – Best Tour Operator” awards given by Royal Caribbean Cruises. In 2012, Norwegian Cruise Line awarded TURA TURIZM the “Most Successful Tour Operator”.

Beyond his contributions to TURA TURIZM, Mr. Oner also owned and managed cruise ships, ferries, and hotels, and shared his knowledge as a lecturer at the University of Istanbul and as an interim lecturer at the Seatrade Cruise Academy in Cambridge. A respected figure in the cruise industry, he was often consulted by the Turkish government, international tourism bodies, and was a fixture at global tourism conferences.

Mr. Oner was also a committed member of several prestigious industry associations including MedCruise, CLIA and TÜRSAB and served as a Board Member of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association. His lifelong contributions to the industry were recognized with numerous awards, including the “Seatrade Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Cruising” in 2016 and the “Mare Nostrum – Mediterranean Tourism Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award” by the presidency of Malta in 2018.

TURA TURIZM remains a family-owned business with a corporate structure, now led by his children, Leyla & Kemal, who uphold his principles of innovation and excellence. Mr. Oner passed away on June 3, 2021, leaving behind a profound legacy that continues to inspire and guide the path of tourism development both in Turkey and around the Mediterranean. His influence and teachings remain a guiding light for all who had the privilege of knowing and learning from him.