Tourism officials seem hopeful for 2018 but…

Tourism officials seem hopeful for 2018 but…

With the trust that comes from the Turkish tourism sector’s recovery at the beginning of this year, tourism seems hopeful for Turkey in 2018.

Only when you speak with them one-on-one, you can see that tourism officials are afraid of the coming year due to ongoing foreign affairs and political developments.

Last week, we listened to the sector’s evaluations and witnessed the distress of tourism officials during our personal conversations at the Seventh International Resort Tourism Congress organized at the Antalya Concorde Hotel in the southern province of Antalya.

Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers’ Association head Erkan Yağcı (AKTOB) made the opening speech. He summarized the problems in the sector and told us what the vision should be for the coming period.

Yağcı pointed out the positive effects of the incentives given by the government with regard to this year’s recovery. He said important changes had been made, from transportation to accommodation, employment to guests, product and market components.

“A new product, a new market and a new vision are key for us in order to answer where we’ll be in the future with these changes,” said Yağcı, adding that there was a big potential for growth and that it was necessary to protect the product’s strength in the market, the service and the quality of human diversity.

He said some operating costs had increased because of insufficient supply and increasing costs while some had increased due to the wrong politics, noting that this increase had reached three to four times the inflation.

Yağcı also drew attention to the changes in world tourism and said the primary dominant factor would be “the upcoming results of the 4.0 changes, which foresees less people and more technology in world production methods.”

The next factor would be “the effects that problems experienced in food production and supply have on service content,” he said.

“From environment and production, to employment investments, problems and opportunities are more global than they have been in the past 10 years,” making it necessary for them to create solutions and innovations on a global level, he summarized.

“That is because the days we have closed our eyes and saved the day have been left behind. If we are working on a global level, we cannot close our eyes. Our guests would not allow us to do this anyway,” Yağcı said.

The words of the German couple

The survey results from tourism professionals who attended the congress showed optimism despite the pessimism we heard in our personal conversations.

When the 2018 year average Euro exchange rate estimate was asked, 47 percent of participants estimated between 5-5.20 Turkish Liras and 33 percent estimated between 4.80-5.00 liras.

In regards to the European market in 2018, 38 percent of participants said they expected more than a 10 percent increase and 36 percent of participants said they expected a 10 percent increase.

For the economic expectations of businesses in 2018, 86 percent said “it would be better than 2017.”

Sixty-one percent of participants said “the most important problem affecting Turkish tourism” in 2017 was foreign affairs.

When asked what the most important risk for 2018 would be, 57 percent of participants agreed that it was “political developments in our region.”

We witnessed complaints from tourism officials in Antalya about “the growing reaction against Turkey by Europeans, especially from those who grew up in Germany.”

Many hotel owners summarized this problem:

“Recently, when I saw a German couple who has stayed with us for almost 20 years, I became very happy and we hugged each other. In the meantime, our manager took a picture of us. The couple then turned to the manager and said ‘But please does not post this on social media.’” When we asked them the reason, they said ‘We do not want our children or family to know we came to Turkey. We told them we were going to Bulgaria. If they find out we came here, they would react,’” they said.

Even though the reaction is not against Turkey but towards the present administration, it still affects everyone.

Erdal Sağlam, hdn, Opinion,