A room with Gezi Park view please
The Gezi Park protests at Taksim, where I was born and where I spent a large portion of my childhood, are now into their 14th day.
The protests that spread to the rest of Turkey from Taksim, maybe for the first time, have caused intense social analysis; they also bring the issue of how they would affect the economy.
One of Turkey’s most important income resources, tourism, especially Istanbul tourism, creates question marks in minds.
Istanbul’s ambition was, in the year 2013, to attract 10.4 million tourists and become the sixth city that attracts the most tourists in the world. Also, it was calculated that tourism revenue would increase 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, and reach $8.6 billion.
Taksim is the heart of Istanbul and a very important hotspot for tourists.
According to the Head of Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) Timur Bayındır, the “disproportional use of force” by the police on the first day of the protests has really scared the tourists staying in hotels around Taksim.
There were cases both of cutting trips short and of cancellations. However, as the incident in Taksim transformed into a festival atmosphere, interesting developments are also being experienced regarding tourism.
According to a friend who has an office in Taksim, tourists who have not left Istanbul and are staying at a big hotel at Taksim Square wanted to change their rooms especially to rooms with a Gezi Park view.
Demands for “A room with a Gezi Park view, please” have accelerated.
The international credit rating agency Moody’s also pointed to the possibility of tourism revenues dropping in its statement yesterday.
In its weekly Credit Outlook Report, Moody’s emphasized that in the case of the continuation of the political tension that started with the Gezi protests, it would affect tourism revenues and portfolio investment entries.
According to Professor Daron Acemoğlu from MIT, in the long term, in the case that protests are seen as an opportunity for democracy, then foreign investments may increase.
Unfortunately, signs coming from the government side up to now are not likely to regard “the protests as an opportunity for democracy.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who held rallies in four different places at the weekend, and who has fired his arrows of criticism toward certain names and banks in the private sector, has cut off, for now, the expectations of the economy circles to moderate the environment.
The prime minister’s call “to deposit your money in state banks” has caused extreme concern among economy experts.
Yesterday morning I listened to Tacirler Yatırım strategist Ahmet Mergen on television who argued that these statements of the prime minister, who was straining the environment more, were no good for the interest rates nor the stock exchange.
While Turkey had recorded significant gains in an environment of global economic crisis, Mergen was concerned that Turkey would fall into the situation of “upsetting the applecart.” He was talking more like a psychologist rather than a portfolio manager:
“We have to understand what these young people want. We grownups live to leave good things for our children; to leave them a better world, a better Turkey. Politicians should go and talk to these young people. These young people who already have their mothers and fathers at their heads do not want on top of it a state authority, a government which decides what they will do.”
According to Mergen, a decrease in the political tension may pull the stock exchange 10 points up in an instant.
Do you think the prime minister would lend an ear to the voice of the economy?