TRAVEL > Turkey sees 2 mln drop in tourism due to crises

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency

Turkish tourism numbers are plunging on the back of myriad regional tensions, the tourism minister Ertuğrul Günay admits even while retaining optimism about a possible rebound. Turkey still have a chance, he says

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Despite the decrease in the overall 2012 tourism data so far, the ancient city of Ephesus
attracts 1 million locals and foreigners in the first seven month of the year. REUTERS photo

Despite the decrease in the overall 2012 tourism data so far, the ancient city of Ephesus attracts 1 million locals and foreigners in the first seven month of the year. REUTERS photo

Some 2 million fewer tourists visited Turkey this year due to tensions with Syria, political problems with Iran and continuing weak demand from Israel, according to Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay.

Despite the more anemic figures, the minister is satisfied with the tourism figures so far this year.

Noting that the events in Syria, Iran and Israel have affected Turkey’s tourism sector, he said: “This year we did not see as many tourists as we saw in 2011. However, we still hope that we will see more tourists than we saw in 2010.”

Tourism trends in Turkey are related to the current political situation, Günay said. “That’s why tourist figures are increasing. In 2011, many reservations to North Africa were canceled, and tourist decided to come to Turkey instead,” he said.

“Currently the European tourism market has shrunk, but other markets have developed. This year we do not expect very large growth like we saw in 2011. We also want Ankara to become a historical destination for tourists,” he said.

Günay told Anatolia news agency yesterday that Turkey was expecting to host up to 33 million tourists in 2012, despite a fall in visitors coming from Israel and Syria as well as the economic crisis in Europe.
Over $25 billion is expected to be earned from tourism, Günay said, adding that Turkey hosted 31.4
million tourists in 2011. According to figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), Turkey earned $23 billion from tourism
last year, he said.

Decrease in tourist figures

The latest developments in Syria have especially affected Turkey’s tourism industry, Günay said.
“Last year tourists coming from Syria reached 750,000. We also have a problem with Iran. Iran has blocked Turkey’s tourism ads, and this has caused a decrease in the tourism figures,” the minister said. “If we add the loss of tourist numbers from Israel, we reach a figure of 2 million.”

Officials from tourism agencies from Arab countries have spoken about why their citizens chose to come to Turkey for holidays. Among the most important factors they detailed were the food, the shared history, the natural beauty, and religious similarities between Turkey and their home countries.

“We have lost a total of 400,000 [people] from Israel,” said Günay, noting the diplomatic chill between Tel Aviv and Ankara had affected the Israeli public.

“[But] when we consider the current situation at the hotels, we can say that we are not in a bad situation. Istanbul’s current tourist situation is really good.,” Günay said adding that the ministry still expects a boost. “We can say it is more than the expected,” he said.

Istanbul’s position depends mainly on European tourists, he said, adding that they expected to reach 50 million tourists in 2023.


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Rudi Spermon

8/21/2012 11:08:08 PM

Having live and worked in Alanya and still living in Istanbul I have seen lots of indescend behaviour. Tourists being charged from double to ten times the prices that should be asked. (and I'm being nice here) - Hehehe, that works perhaps once but these tourists don't come back. They will tell their friends as did I and some of my relatives. After ten years in Turkey and living in a touristic area, I don't look people in the eye anymore and don't smile too much (my advice as a tourist guide).


8/21/2012 10:39:13 PM

Travel Magazine Jan 2011: If you traveled the Mediterranean then you can't help noticing how tacky Turkish holiday resorts look and you cant help wondering what planet the tourism ministers in Turkey are living on.

Emre Deliveli

8/21/2012 5:48:19 PM

Since several of the commenters have not only read my recent HDN column on Turkish tourism ( http://bit.ly/MqPSNn ), but also posted a comment to it, I wanted to share with you the addendum at my blog: http://bit.ly/PaRBCA

Aslam Benli

8/21/2012 5:18:51 PM

Now we can see where the AKP and Sultan Erdogan's political games has taken us. As a consequence it has harm our country's economy. Arrogance and populism is not in the best interest of Turkiye. I have many western friends that stop going to Turkey for vacations since AKP's closing bars and restaurants that sell alcohol or have live music. We are moving towards a theocracy.

mara mcglothin

8/21/2012 3:58:07 PM

THE PRISONER Right! And you add the "Fast" into the mix in the middle of the biggest part of the season and you get a huge decline. I do not believe it is any one thing, but a bad combination of events that has caused the problem, and then you add the fact that most Turks(as reported today) are badly in debt on credit cards they have no idea how to use and you haev the impending disaster that I have often warned about on these pages.

Shah Hamdan

8/21/2012 1:41:42 PM

Tourism industry lives on Sun, sand, sex and alcohol. Now fifth element is peace. When region is burning and still no end in sight no tourist will come to Turkey. I fear next phase will be reduction of foreign investment. If it happened then Turkish development will be on decline.

The Prisoner

8/21/2012 11:57:57 AM

But this goverment's aim is to marginalise 'western tourism'! Closing bars and restaurants that sell alcohol or have live music. Many visitors to our town have said this is their last visit due to the hostility they feel comes from the goverment.

Red Tail

8/21/2012 11:48:17 AM

PKK's increasing activity might have contributed. One reason can also be that the increase in one group can lead to a decrease in others. I once went to an expensive all inclusive. The place was wonderful, but the behavour of some of the other tourists from certain regions made the stay there rather unpleasant. Aggressive, shouting, no manner and very vulgar behaviour. It is simply not nice to share an open buffe or a pool side with uncivilized people.

Uri Zakay

8/21/2012 6:49:42 AM

Turkey can improve the turist numbers it has to improve its realations with Israel.

rich bind

8/21/2012 2:52:34 AM

Erdogan stated publicy that Turkey had no need for Israeli tourists. Bet the folks in the tourism industry might not agree.
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