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Turkish tourism agency incurs losses with Israeli cancellations

ISTANBUL - Referans | 6/28/2010 12:00:00 AM | DİNÇER GÖKÇE

The Turkish tourism industry has been seriously affected by the recent tension between former allies Turkey and Israel.

The Turkish tourism industry has been seriously affected by the recent tension between former allies Turkey and Israel. The Turkish economy has lost at least $400 million due to reservation cancellations from Israeli tourists, according to tourism agencies.

Some 50,000 Israelis have cancelled their reservations indefinitely. Furthermore, the Israel Travel Agents Association has announced that it cancelled 100,000 reservations out of a total of 150,000.

The cancellations, which came after Israeli soldiers killed eight Turkish citizens and a American of Turkish origins on an aid ship headed toward the Gaza Strip, have created a $400 million loss for the economy. Tour operators in Turkey said they want to recoup their losses.

Levantin Tour, a tourism company has posted a 3.5 million Turkish Liras loss due to cancelled reservations, according to the owner of the company, Levent Güner. Levantin Tour has been bringing tourists from Israel to Turkey for the past 15 years.

“Our company’s main business channel has been cut,” Güner said. “Who will retrieve my 3.5 million-lira loss?”

Levantin Tour had aimed to bring 17,000 tourists from Israel to Turkey this year, said Güner, adding that until now the company was unfortunately only able to bring 200 tourists. The company has paid $1.1 million to hotels for cancelled reservations.

Turkey has suffered a minimum $400 million loss because of this situation, Güner said. “An Israeli tourist spends $650 on average. The number of tourists spending that much money is very low. Some tourism agencies have gone bankrupt due to this situation,” he said.

Brontes Travel, a tourism agency in Turkey, is also suffering due to reservation cancellations, according to the owner of the company, Yüksel Aslan. Brontes has been bringing the most Israeli tourists to Turkey’s southwestern tourist town of Bodrum.

Fatih Günay, owner of Kartaca tourism agency, said he could no longer see any Israeli tourists at hotels in Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye. Rooms priced at 70 liras per night are now being sold for 40 liras, according to Günay.

Another tourism agency, Kalanit Tur, had aimed to bring 90,000 Israeli tourists to Turkey this year.

“Kalanit will be able to bring only 33,000 Israelis this year,” said Serdar Ünsal, managing director of the company.

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