Tourism cannot exist without Germany
The very important statement in the title belongs to Hüseyin Baraner, the overseas representative of the Association of Turkish Travel Agents (TÜRSAB), who has been working in Germany in the tourism sector for the last 40 years. I have spoken recently with Baraner about the stroke the tourism industry received following the crisis between Turkey and Germany and how the damage can be averted.
The years in which the number of tourists from Germany peaked with 5.6 million are left behind. Germany, which was the leading market in tourism in 2015, has now fallen to the spot of third after Russia and Georgia.
The number of German tourists which was 3,890,000 in 2016 is around 863,000 between January and May of 2007. At this rate, it is ambiguous if the figure hits to three million at the end of the year.
“The most important issue is that we have lost the majority of rich, highly cultured German tourists,” Hüseyin Baraner says.
Turkey had registered important progress between 2000 and 2014 in its effort to attract “high segment tourists” to the country according to Baraner, who said this trend has now reversed.
“The investments undertaken by the hotel keepers for the high-income segment, for example, luxury villages that are 1,000-2,000 euros per night are idle. The last minute sales are coming from Germans with limited economic means,” he said.
Three important reasons
According to Baraner, there is erosion in the friendship between German and Turkish societies. There are three reasons behind this.
Due to the Turkish population exceeding three million in Germany, the German society has been following the developments in Turkey day by day. And, when the local newspaper gives negative news from Turkey, Germans are affected by an impaired image of Turkey.
Turkey remains weak in sharing information regarding developments.
Formerly, countless joint activities, involving media representatives, NGOs, politicians, intellectuals, were undertaken between Turkey and Germany. Like many of my colleagues, I have also joined these. In the recent years, such activities have decreased substantially. It is as if there are none left anymore.
“Turkey has cut off from Germany. But, tourism cannot exist without Germany,” Baraner rightly said.
Crazy project for 2018 tourism season
Baraner is after a crazy project for the 2018 tourism season to make it possible for the two societies to unite again. Some 1001 people will be invited from Germany to Turkey’s important 21 destinations within the context of a project, which he describes as “Turkey-Germany 1001 Friends.”
Baraner has been continuing to hold meetings with hotel keepers for the project whose coordination is undertaken by the tourism professional Volkan Şimşek. “Our target is to show that Turkish society harbors warm feelings for Germans,” said Baraner.
“We want to send a direct positive message to German society. In the coming years, this project can turn into a Turkey-Germany Friendship Festival,” he added.
Food unites hearts
As Hüseyin Baraner says, it is important that politics does not affect the communication and friendship between communities.
But, often the reverse happens, as is usually the case in the tourism sector.
A couple of hours after the second synagogue in Istanbul was raided due to the al-Aqsa mosque incidents in Jerusalem, the gala of the “New Israel Kitchen” took place in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beşiktaş.
The person who brought eight Israeli chefs and a crowded group of Israeli gourmets to Istanbul is the gourmet tour guide David Califa, who was injured in a suicide bomb attack on İstiklal Avenue last year.
Califa has not given up coming to Istanbul after the attack, in which four people were killed.
In the gala named “Food unites hearts,” which successful young Turkish chefs like Mehmet Gürs, Mansut Akşar, Civan Er attended, Califa did not also fail to gives messages of friendship.
I think our chefs will also go to Israel this autumn.
As much as food unites hearts and raised glasses reinforce friendship, the contribution of gastronomy to tourism is also important.
Let us also not forget Turkish cuisine is also promoted through tourism.