Foreign tourists stay eight nights in Turkey, spend $631 and leave
GÜNGÖR URASTourism revenues are not increasing. Lots of cheap tourists from Arab and Muslim countries are coming to Turkey. Tourists from Arab and Muslim countries cannot be despised. We welcome them.
But we do not do tourism for “hobby.” We have a tourism industry for foreign exchange earnings. Tourism is one of our two main foreign exchange sources. One is exports and the other is tourism. That’s it!
-Last year export revenues were $134.9 billion, and tourism was $23 billion.
-In the first half of the year, export revenues increased 13.4 percent, reaching $74.3 billion. However, in the first half of the year, tourism revenues decreased by a thousandth, meaning it came in at $8.3 billion.
And we are including the visits and spending of Turks living abroad to the number of tourists and their spending.
-In the course of the past year, 31.3 million of the 36.1 million tourists who came to Turkey were foreigners while the other 4.8 million were Turks living abroad. Of the $23 billion in tourism revenue, $17.8 billion were from foreign tourists and $5.2 billion were from domestic tourists.
In the first half of year, the share of Turks living abroad in the total $8.3 billion revenue was $1.7 billion.
In the first half of year, tourists who come to Turkey stayed 7.9 nights on average. They stayed a little bit more than one week. However, Turks living abroad stayed 17.4 nights on average.
In the first half of year, the foreign exchange left by one tourist was $631 on average. It was $606 last year.
Divide 631 by 7.9 nights, and the result is less than $100 per day.
This is our problem. The numbers show that we let cheap tourists use our cheap resources. We are serving them and letting them wear out our luxury hotels.
We cannot say, “It’s OK, we can earn money from elsewhere and still keep on hosting them.” We have to increase our tourism revenues. Tourism revenues increase with the quality of tourists rather than the number of them.
Tourists who visit foreign countries generally spend their money on one of convention tourism, cultural tourism or health tourism. Wealthy people not only look for luxury but also want to be in the company of tourists that are on the same level as them.
Luxury beds are going for cheap
It’s useful to repeat. No religious, linguistic or racial discrimination remains today. It is impossible to forget poor people when you are welcoming wealthy people.
But it’s useful repeating it again. We want to earn money from tourism. Cheap tourists do not bring money to us; they are exploiting our resources.
The number of tourists who came from Arab and Muslim countries hit 4.5 million in 2011 after the Tourism Ministry and Turkish Airlines ran an advertising campaign to attract Arab and Muslim tourists to Turkey.
A lot of Arab and Muslim tourists have come to Istanbul this summer. Lots of luxury hotels sold their rooms for cheaper prices to these Arab and Muslim tourists so that they didn’t stay empty.
Tourists on an all-inclusive holiday eat and drink while strolling around Sultanahmet, taking a Bosphorus tour, walking around Cevahir Mall and taking a few photos before leaving Istanbul without spending their money.
This article was intended to outline the situation. The Tourism Ministry should evaluate the drop in foreign tourists, the changing demographics of foreign tourists and the decrease in tourism revenue while also directing the sector’s players.
Huge investments have been made – and continue to be made – in this sector. Many people work in this industry but, in its present state, it has problems.
*Güngör Uras is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this peace appeared on August 22. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.