Tours frozen, flights canceled on Russian foreign minister’s call
ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency
A Transaero Boeing 747-400 aircraft takes off from a runway at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, Russia, October 2, 2015. REUTERS PhotoRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has recommended Russian citizens refrain from visiting Turkey, causing tour operators to freeze reservations, while flights to touristic Turkish provinces, particularly Antalya, have been canceled.
According to the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED), after Lavrov’s statements the number of planes landing at Turkish airports from Russia has started to fall.
TUROFED President Osman Ayık underlined many airliners have been arriving at Turkey’s airports free of passengers, so they could bring back Russian tourists to their country.
Ayık stressed the tourism flow from Russia usually ends in late October and early November, adding the economic value of Russian tourists’ visits to Turkey was up to $5 billion annual. More than four million Russian tourists visit Turkey, he said.
According to the TUROFED chief, the number of Russian tourists, including cancellations, has risen, as flights to Egypt were directed to Turkey after the deadly downing of a plane in Egypt late last month claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In this regard, Lavrov said, “The level of the terrorist threat in Turkey is not lower than in Egypt.”
Ayık emphasized it was difficult to forecast tourism numbers for 2016, as it was too early to make judgements based on the numbers registered today.
“The incident is still fresh. Therefore, it is too early to comment. The relations between the two countries are deep-rooted. Thus, we hope these incidents will be soothed without escalating the issue,” he said.
It is important not to reach a level where Russia says “I am stopping all flights,” added Ayık, who suggested if the Russian tourism market were to slip, there would be no market to compensate for it.