Turkey sees steepest decline in monthly foreign arrivals since May 1999
ANKARA/ISTANBULThe number of foreign arrivals visiting Turkey slumped by 28 percent in April to 1.75 million compared to the same month of 2015, marking the steepest decline since May 1999, according to data issued by the Tourism Ministry on May 27.
Almost half of the foreign arrivals were made by day visitors, the data showed.
In April, Turkey saw significant declines mainly in arrivals from Russia and Western countries amid rising security concerns and the diplomatic crisis with Russia, which was the second largest foreign tourist source for Turkey until recently.
The number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey declined by 79.2 percent to around 31,000 in April compared to the same month of 2015.
The number of arrivals from Germany also dropped by 35.4 percent in April and from Britain by 24.4 percent, to around 246,000 and 103,000 respectively.
The highest number of foreign arrivals was again seen from Germany in April, followed by Georgia with 182,249 visitors and Bulgaria with 147,880 visitors in April.
The number of foreign people visiting Turkey decreased by 16.5 percent to 5.82 million in the first four months of this year compared to the same period of 2015, data also showed.
The number of Russians visiting Turkey saw a decline of around 68 percent in the first four months the year compared to the same period of 2015, decreasing to 97,177.
These numbers are the worst since May 1999, when foreign arrivals to Turkey declined amid clashes between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), after PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was arrested in February 1999.
Germany still tops the list
Turkey lured the highest number of foreign people from Germany in the first four months of the year with around 730,000 visitors, taking around 13 percent of the share in total visitors. Germany was followed by Georgia with around 615,000 arrivals and a 10.5 percent share in the total, and Iran, which sent 561,560 people to Turkey, taking a 9.6 percent of share in the total.
The head of the Hoteliers Association of Turkey (TÜROB) predicted that the sector would close the year with double-digit declines in tourism numbers over 2016.
There were significant decreases in hotel occupancy rates across Turkey, mainly in Istanbul, after a series of bomb attacks as well as the ongoing crisis with Russia, TÜROB head Timur Bayındır told Reuters on May 26.
As any significant rise was not seen in summer reservations and many hotels cut their room prices, it is not likely for the sector to reach its year-end revenue targets, Bayındır said.
“The rising security concerns have hit our sector. As many countries have issued security warnings about Turkey, we have seen decreases in foreign arrivals,” he added.
Istanbul’s hotel occupancy rates decreased to 50.3 percent in April, the lowest figure in the last decade, according to TÜROB data.