Turkey asks Israel to ease security warnings for tourists
AFP photoTurkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı has requested Israel to downgrade the security warning it issued for Turkey, noting that the country was ready to provide security reports.
Avcı met his Israeli counterpart Yariv Levin on Feb. 7, becoming the first member of the Turkish cabinet to visit Israel since 2010.
“We discussed that Israel should ease its security warning for Turkey. Lowering it will be a key trigger in increasing the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey. We can do the same as what we did with Russia. For that, we prepared the latest security reports, which showed that we have taken required security measures,” he said.
He noted that Turkey aimed to attract 1 million tourists from Israel, noting that reaching 600,000 tourists would be quite easy. He said the number of Turkish tourists visiting Israel would also rise.
“We told Israeli officials, frankly, that because of visa issues and some difficulties faced in Israeli airports and customs, Turks do not place Israel in their travel plans. We voiced the need for visa-free travel,” he said.
Avcı added that the Israeli side has expressed their unease with their low share in cruise tours in Eastern Mediterranean destinations. “We then offered them to prepare joint cruise tours,” he added.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey declined to 25.3 million in 2016, a 30 percent drop compared to 2015, after a series of bomb attacks, a diplomatic crisis with Russia, and the failed July 15, 2016 military coup attempt, data from the Turkish Tourism Ministry showed. Its tourism revenue also dropped to $22.1 billion in 2016, a 29.7 percent decrease compared to 2015, as the number of foreign arrivals to the country witnessed a dramatic plunge, official data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) showed Jan. 31.
Turkey to recover losses this year
Avcı noted that Turkey would recover its losses over 2017.
“Many foreigners, who had earlier visited Turkey, but chose Spain or Greece for tourism reasons last year, have taken our country into their plans again after seeing the price and quality difference, according to representatives from a leading tour company. In this vein, we have seen a big rise in early reservations for this year. Nobody should be surprised if the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey this year would hit record high levels,” he added.