Exiting Mir system may not affect Russian tourist visits
More than 11 million foreign tourists arrived in Antalya through the popular holiday destination’s airport between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, up by 57 percent from the sale period of last year.
The number of foreign tourist arrivals since the start of the year was larger than the number of visitors in the previous two years combined, according to data from the provincial directorate of culture and tourism.
In the first nine months of 2020 and 2021, the city hosted 2.6 million and 7 million visitors, respectively.
In September alone, the city on the Mediterranean coast welcomed 1.99 million foreign visitors, up 15 percent on an annual basis.
Russians constituted the largest group of foreign holidaymakers in January-September. Some 2.34 million Russian nationals visited the city during this period, followed by Germans at nearly 2.2 million and Britons at 952,000. Among other top visitors were Polish, Dutch, Kazakh, Romanian, Israeli and Danes.
There are concerns that Turkish banks’ decision to pull out from the Russian Mir payment system may hit the tourism activity in Antalya.
However, Davut Çetin, head of the Antalya Commerce and Industry (ATSO), believes this may not happen, arguing that banks’ decision is not likely to affect the inflow of Russian tourists but their spending during their stay in Türkiye may decline.
“Russians pay for package tours in advance in their country that is why exiting Mir will not have an adverse impact on visits from Russia,” Çetin said.
He, however, acknowledged that there will be some problems when they go out from hotels to do shopping in the city. “Their spending while here will decline. The retail trade will be affected.”
Çetin called for a swift solution to the problem. “They will bring cash, but this will limit their spending. This situation will also spell troubles for the Russians who already reside in or arrived in Antalya after the war broke out.”
Demand from Russia is still strong, and bookings continue, said İsmail Çağlar, general manager of a five-star hotel in the city.
Some 250 rooms out of 500 at his hotel are presently occupied by Russians, and booking numbers into the first week of November are good, he added.
There are no problems in terms of merchandise trade between Russian and Turkish companies, said Ümit Mirza Çavuşoğlu, the head of the Western Mediterranean Exporters’ Association.
“Exporters receive money for the goods they ship to Russia via bank transfer in dollars or in rubles. Mir card is not used in trade,” he added.