Farewell to the dream of more incoming Chinese tourists

Farewell to the dream of more incoming Chinese tourists

I never took it seriously that the idealist youths of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had “changed” during their leader Devlet Bahçeli’s time. This group turned my years at university into a nightmare with their raids of my department. 

I was right. 

In these days, the tragi-comic attacks of the idealist youths are at the top of the news agenda after they were trying to protest China for their oppression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. 

As a matter of fact, a leopard can’t change its spots. 

The angry idealist youths attacked a Chinese restaurant whose owner was Turkish and whose cook was Uighur. They burned an effigy of Mao, they marched to the thermic power plant in Zonguldak where Chinese workers worked, but the most horrific and weirdest of all was indeed the one in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul.  

Idealist youth were, as I saw on TV, chasing South Korean tourists, thinking they were Chinese. Horrified tourist guides were trying to save the South Koreans from the angry crowd. 

Well, here is what MHP chair Bahçeli said after seeing these scenes: “These are young people. One person would lead them and they would all follow. Also, what is the differentiating factor between a Korean and a Chinese? They looked and saw that they all have slanted eyes, right? “

I don’t know how the Chinese sources reacted to this racist discourse but I read that South Korea was appalled at Bahçeli’s statement. 

Justice and Development Party (AKP) chief advisor Hüseyin Çelik said it was “hugely ignorant and bullying to attack all slanted-eyed people thinking they were Chinese. Let us not forget, one-third of the world has slanted eyes.” 

The emphasis in the statements of politicians are on the mistake of confusing Koreans for Chinese; whereas, the issue is actually the racist and xenophobic winds that are blowing in Turkey at every opportunity. 

Our politicians cannot think why an innocent Chinese tourist visiting our country should be held responsible for the state policies China conducted in its Xinjiang province. 

On the other hand, Turkey’s tourism experienced a 30 percent drop this year in the rate of incoming Russian tourists. Far Eastern tourists, especially Chinese tourists, are what we need for a fresh breath. 

The press spokesperson of China’s Ankara Embassy, Hua You, told me the other day that 180,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey last year. This is an important potential for Turkey. Hua You said more Chinese tourists may come to Turkey with proper advertising and promotion campaigns. There are daily flights to four destinations in China. 

Turkey has a golden opportunity to fill the gap in its trade with China. The trade volume between the two countries is $28 billion. Unfortunately, Turkey cannot make use of that. 

I guess, today, when idealist youth are hunting and chasing Chinese tourists, even if Turkey triples its promotion budget, the situation will remain the same for a long time. 

The expectations and calculations on Chinese tourists of the tourism sector have been postponed to another season.