Foreign tourists visiting Turkey see sharpest drop in March since October 2006
DHA photoThe number of foreign arrivals to Turkey declined approximately 13 percent in March to 1.65 million compared to the same month of 2015, the sharpest drop since October 2006, amid rising security concerns and dramatic decrease in the number of Russian tourists.
The number of arrivals from Russia saw around 59 percent of decline in the mentioned period, according to Tourism Ministry data, which was released on April 28 and compiled by Reuters.
The number of foreign arrivals to Turkey declined by 10.3 percent to around 4 million in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2015, according to the ministry data.
Due to economic problems in Russia and the recent diplomatic crisis between Russia and Turkey, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey declined by 58.95 percent to 23,947 in March. The arrivals from Russia saw around 56 percent of decrease in the first three months of the year compared to the first quarter of 2015, according to official data.
“The crisis with Russia and escalating security concerns have started to show their negative effects over the tourism sector. The first quarter is actually not of great importance for Turkey’s tourism due to seasonal reasons as the country hosts much fewer tourists in this period than it does in summer. We will see the actual situation clearly after April in the sector,” said Oyak Investment’s chief economist, Mehmet Besimoğlu, as quoted by Reuters.
The rising security concerns after a number of suicide bomb attacks in Turkey have negatively affected the arrivals from Western countries.
17 pct drop in arrivals from Germany
According to official data, the number of arrivals from Germany declined 17 percent in March compared to the same month of 2015. Meanwhile, the number of Japanese tourists dropped by 48 percent in the same time period.
The number of arrivals from Iraq also decreased 80 percent in the above mentioned period, data showed.
In order to support the sector during the current downturn, the government has announced a number of economic packages.
A package announced by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Feb. 22 includes a 255 million-Turkish-Lira grant and several mechanisms that will enable tourism firms to restructure their debts.
A $6,000 fuel subsidy for each airplane carrying tourists to certain airports in Turkey has also been extended from June until September.
The government also revealed an employment support package in April to back the hard-hit tourism sector.
The five-item package will be in force for the Mediterranean resort of Antalya and the Aegean province of Muğla for the next year in its initial stage but could be extended if necessary, the cabinet has said.