Turkey’s tourism problems are political
Interesting results came out of an interactive survey involving 1,000 participants from all over Turkey, at the 6th International Resort Tourism Congress in the Mediterranean city of Antalya’s Lara Barut Hotel. This was the sector’s most important meeting in 2016, amid the worst crisis in the modern history of Turkey’s tourism. Other important topics besides tourism were discussed at the Congress, which was also attended by Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı.
The topic was brought up a day before the congress meeting, at the Turkish-German Forum, in a meeting attended by Avcı. This time it was discussed in relation to the survey. Ten questions were asked to participants regarding the situation on tourism and what they expected from 2017. Participants had to choose from six to seven different responses to the survey questions.
Asked what the most important issue affecting the year in tourism was, 74.7 percent of them responded “foreign policy.” This is concrete proof of the concern voiced by tourism players on the crisis the sector has been suffering since Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane on Nov. 24, 2015. Their argument is that the problem in tourism is not mainly economic or sector-related.
The average answer to the question, “What losses have managements experienced in turnover in 2016?” was “34 percent.” When asked about their expectations for 2017, 41.6 percent said they thought things would get worse. Regarding the general economic situation, 70.3 percent believe it will get worse in 2017, 25.5 percent said it would be similar to this year, and only 4.2 percent said it would be better than this year.
In response to the question, “What do you predict will be the most important issue in 2017?” some 74.7 percent chose “political tensions caused by foreign policy.”
Major European tour operators and top PR agencies participating in the meeting also said the crisis Turkey is going through in tourism had political reasons. This means that the solution to these problems is political.
Tourism executives said they were “always optimistic,” but the bare facts cannot be disregarded.
The moderator of the congress, Nizamettin Şen, commented on the bitter picture painted by the results of the survey. “Despite all the current negative conditions, we will not give up on hope,” he said.
Democracy and law first
Davut Çetin, the head of the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ATSO), spoke on the problems in tourism at the meeting.
“The year 2016 has been a lesson for us. We have understood the value of the tourist. Now, the real issue is saving 2017,” Çetin said.
“We are expecting tourism and agriculture support to be announced in due course by the government. We are waiting for this to become official. Despite current disagreements with the EU, half of Turkey’s exports are shipped to European countries,” he added, while also referring to other political issues that the government could address.
“Every year, we make promotions. This year we have worked on a PR campaign for Antalya. But there needs to be a different effort at the government level in terms of Turkey’s image in Europe. We should not be a country that continues to be so badly criticized regarding our democracy and law,” Çetin said.