Hoteliers have little hope of luring Western tourists
ANTALYA - Doğan News Agency
Tourism representatives from the southern province of Antalya, Turkey’s tourism center, have said they did not find what had expected at the ITB Berlin fair, adding they saw 2016 as a difficult year for the sector once again.
They noted Turkey needed to focus on promotional campaigns abroad more than in previous years amid rising security concerns and negative perceptions about the country, after they returned from the Berlin fair, which was held on March 9-13.
“We confirmed what we had foreseen for this year in Berlin. Namely, we once again saw that the reservation cancelations would be fairly high and 2016 would be a difficult year, especially for Antalya. Our biggest concern is to experience huge shrinkage in employment across the sector,” said the head of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB), Yusuf Hacısüleyman.
Forecasting that the regression in the sector’s German market would be around 30 percent by the year-end, he noted, “In a bid to decrease these negative effects to a minimum, we need to start a PR campaign, which also includes closer ties with the western European countries. Negative perceptions about Turkey need to be averted. Some political discourses, some inefficiency in informing what has been done regarding the refugee crisis and the latest terror attacks have triggered negative thoughts about Turkey.”
He noted it would be a big fault to decrease prices, as the country has achieved a good price-service balance over the last 30 years.
The head of the Hoteliers Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED), Osman Ayık, said the German market was of crucial importance for Turkey.
“We have called Germany, Britain, France, Scandinavian countries and the former Iron Curtain countries as our European market. The reservations in this market for Turkey have been lower than they were in earlier years,” he said.
He noted some of the losses in this market have not been directed towards Turkey’s competitors on the Mediterranean coastline, such as Spain, Italy or Greece.
“We can recover some losses and the last minute reservations may bring some recreation across the sector. A majority of German people have not made their holiday plans yet. This is a chance for us. Here security matters a lot… we need to resolve the security issues,” Ayık noted.
Saying that the losses in the European market would be around 20 percent unless a new terror incident happens in touristic areas, the vice president of the Promotional Foundation of Antalya (ATAV), Yeliz Gül Ege, added, “We have forecasted the sector would see some 20 percent loss from the European market. The only market that will bring some relief to Antalya is the Middle Eastern market and promotional campaigns should be diverted to this market.”
According to Ege, even German-Turks found Turkey insecure in their meetings.
“We need to reverse these negative perceptions through comprehensive PR work. In the Russian market, any peace attempts will make a huge difference. Any other attempts will bring nothing,” she added.
April will be ‘crucial’
Tourism players also noted April will be of crucial importance to give positive signals abroad in a bid to stop negative thoughts about Turkey.
“Unless we give positive messages by April, we will see further losses every day. We need to concentrate on our friends who always prefer us. Positive messages given by them will make a great contribution to our tourism sector,” said the chair of ASKA Hotels, Ramazan Aslan.
The head of the Chamber of Trade and Industry of Antalya (ATSO), Davut Çetin, said the sector has been in a difficult position, but can leave this turbulent period through effective promotional campaigns.
A total of 393 Turkish sector players attended the ITB Berlin fair, which welcomed more than 170,000 people. Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal also attended the fair and met with both Turkish tourism representatives and global tourism players.