Turkish tourism players warn of bigger losses in 2017
Burak Coşan - MUĞLA
DHA photoTurkish tourism representatives have warned that more serious problems for the struggling sector may be ahead in the upcoming 2017-2018 season, as the current investment stock and employment base are much higher than the expected number of tourists.
“Touristic resorts have seen dark days, hitting not only hotels, but also local shops and people, after at least 15 years of gradual growth. These people reached much higher living standards in the last 15 years than they did before, but they have suddenly started to lose these standards. This may lead to social problems in addition to economic problems. We should accept 2016 as a lost year and we need to work to recover our losses in the 2017-2018 season. We actually fear losing the upcoming seasons,” said the head of the Hoteliers Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED), Osman Ayık.
He noted that the sector had some $80 billion of investment stock and a high quality bed capacity of 1 million, adding the sector also provided employment for more than 1 million people.
“If the required steps are not taken, 2017 will be much worse than this year. Turkey’s deteriorated image needs to rebound immediately through comprehensive promotional campaigns. Most importantly, Turkish Airlines should start direct flights from many parts of the world to touristic resorts,” added Ayık.
The number of foreign visitors to 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 amid security concerns and the diplomatic crisis with Russia. The number of foreign arrivals visiting Turkey slumped by 28 percent in the month of April to 1.75 million compared to the same month of 2015, marking the steepest decline since May 1999.
In many touristic resorts and towns in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, mainly Muğla and Antalya, which were once very popular among European and Russian tourists, the crisis is clear simply by looking at the almost deserted streets, the lines of available taxis and the empty local stores.
The head of the Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB) said that something beneficial could still be done to recover some losses this year, but detailed planning was needed for at least a three-year span.
“It is obvious that there is no problem with our touristic products and services, but a problem with political issues. There is a perception issue here. In order to revive our image, we need to launch an extensive promotional and PR campaign as well as lobbying activities,” said AKTOB head Yusuf Hacısüleyman.