Are there any steps toward Moscow to relieve tourism?
Newspapers and even some television stations have started covering the gloomy tourism situation in Turkey. Let us immediately go to the figures.
According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s April data, those arriving from Germany, the country which sends the highest number of tourists to Turkey, dropped 35.43 percent, from Russia 79.28 percent and from the U.K. 35.43 percent.
The tourism sector shares the opinion that this is the biggest crisis Turkey has gone through in 30 years and it will not only affect 2017 but also last three to four years.
News is coming from Antakya, which I had the opportunity to visit recently, from Bodrum and also from the important tourism destination of Cappadocia, actually from almost everywhere prominent in tourism, that five-star hotels are being closed down and there is major unemployment emerging in the sector.
We have read that even before the new tourism season started 200,000 people lost their jobs.
One of the founders of the website Tatilbudur.com, where reservations are made online, Bülent Kuş, said, “Tourism was rising in Turkey. In 2016, we are now facing a 45 percent loss.”
It’s no secret that the heaviest blow to the Turkish tourism sector is coming from Russia, which was second to Germany in sending the highest number of tourists to Turkey. The numbers above demonstrate this.
The Russian crisis, besides tourism, has also affected Turkey’s fresh fruit and vegetable exports and the logistics sector, as far as I gathered during my Antakya visit.
Well, in this case, is Turkey ready to take a step that could relieve both tourism and exportation? The answer to this question came from the consul-general of the Russian Federation in Istanbul, Andrey Podelsyhev.
Speaking at the Turkey-Russia Trade Relations meeting organized by the Anatolian Businessmen Association, he said, “Every year, 4.5 million Russian tourists were visiting Turkey. Since January, charter flights to Turkey were cancelled. Russian tour agencies stopped offering Turkey tour packages. The decline in goods and products trade is increasing, but we will overcome this crisis. We will absolutely find a solution.”
The consul-general emphasized that the two countries should be able to understand each other. He gave a clue about how to overcome the crisis, basing it on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s Greece trip. He conveyed that Putin said in Greece, “We want Turkey-Russia relations to recover. We expect serious steps from Ankara. Ankara has not taken serious steps up until now.”
In other words, Moscow is expecting serious steps in terms of politics from Ankara. They are the steps that will relieve the tourism sector, which is in a deep crisis, and also the fresh fruit and vegetable exports.
Would a country that has changed exactly four culture and tourism ministers in three years take these steps? Will it opt for sending the already terror-stricken West the image of “a country which is the cradle of tolerance, where culture and historic heritage is preserved,” instead of somehow celebrating the conquest of Istanbul every year with more splendor?