250,000 Russian ‘police tourists’ expected
At least 250,000 Russian police officers and their families are expected to visit Turkey starting from August, after Moscow removed a ban that had prevented members of the Russian security forces from travelling to some countries.
“We have not yet seen the positive impact of the removal ban. But starting from August we may see it because members of the Russian police need to arrange their annual leave and holiday plans, and all these preparations take time, probably until mid-August,” Erkan Yağcı, the head of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers’ Association (AKTOB), told reporters in North Cyprus.
“We are hoping to host some 250,000 Russian polices this year,” he added.
Russian police were prohibited to go abroad in 2014, when the Russian Foreign Ministry published a list of 116 countries not recommended for traveling.
However, on June 22, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev signed an order, authorizing Russian police to spend their annual leave in Turkey as well as Thailand.
Turkey has been a popular destination among Russian holidaymakers for years. According to data from the Turkish Tourism Ministry, a total of 5.96 million Russian nationals visited the country in 2018, accounting for 15.1 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals.
Russian tourist visits jumped 26.5 percent last year compared to 2017.
The latest tourism statistics showed that a total of 12.8 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in the first five months of 2019, an 11.3 percent increase from a year ago. The number of Russian tourists, however, rose more than that at 20.54 percent on an annual visit to 1.67 million, or 13 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals.
Separately Yağcı said that some 50-52 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Turkey this year.
He reminded that Turkey saw a record number of foreign tourists back in 2014, with 46 million visits while tourism revenues stood at $34.5 billion that year.
“This year tourism revenues may amount to $34-35 billion,” Yağcı said.