Is it the Germany crisis in tourism now?
Apparently the reactions to Germany’s approval of the genocide resolution will not come to an end. Reactions are at every level and unfortunately they are spreading in waves.
At one end of the spectrum is the harsh reaction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he implied that Turkish-origin German MP Cem Özdemir’s blood should be tested in a laboratory. There are headlines in certain media organs which read “Children of Hitler.”
We saw the most unreasonable reaction from the heads of neighborhoods at the southeastern province Adıyaman. The Association of Adıyaman Village and Neighborhood Heads prepared posters with photos of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Özdemir decorated with German and Armenian flags with “We Condemn” written on them. Let us say, up to this point, this reaction is acceptable.
However, the same local heads, one-by-one, spat on the photos of the faces of Merkel and Özdemir and burned the posters; what would you say to that?
Instead of right-minded analyses and common sense, how much more can there be of such reactions? At the end of the day, Germany is Turkey’s number one export market. Last year, Turkey’s exportation to Germany reached $13.4 billion. There is a 36.8-billion-euro trade volume between the two countries. The number of German companies operating in Turkey is more than 6,000 and they create significant employment here.
The crucial point in economic relations is that the number of tourists arriving from Germany to Turkey, which numbers 4.7 million. In other words, Germany is the top country sending tourists to Turkey.
Thus, tourism circles I consulted are concerned that after the Russian crisis, this crisis with Germany may reflect on tourism. The dominant concern is that the increasing dose of reactions may scare German tourists.
Now, would a German tourist, seeing the angry reaction of the Adıyaman heads, risk climbing the famous Nemrut Mountain to see the famous statues?
Hotel Association of Turkey (TÜROB) Chair Timur Bayındır said the crisis with Germany may negatively affect the sector. Bayırdır, quite justifiably, emphasized that the tourism sector totally depends on friendship and peace: “If these do not exist, then tourism is in trouble.”
The head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), Başaran Ulusoy, predicted that there would not be any problems in the already sold tours to Germany, but starting this month there may be a fall in reservations.
According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s April data, there was a 35.43 percent fall in the number of tourists from Germany. The average drop in the past four months was 22 percent.
Ulusoy said the year 2016 will be a bad year one way or another but for 2017, a promotional attack should being now.
You may make as many promotions as you wish, or as Ulusoy suggests, invite foreign journalists and opinion leaders here; all of these efforts will not be of any good as long as politicians make angry proclamations, as long as the political climate is tense and as long as our human rights record is full of failures.