Turkey doesn't want to lose Russian tourists: Minister
Umut Erdem - ANTALYA
DHA photoTourism Minister Mahir Ünal has said the main priority of Turkey’s tourism sector is to not lose Russian tourists, and Ankara wants to ease current tensions with Moscow as soon as possible.
Speaking after a closed meeting with leading sector representatives in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Dec. 5, Ünal said they had given him a 100-item list of demands to be presented to the cabinet on Dec. 7.
“Antalya now has the world’s best tourism infrastructure. Even tourism players from Spain visit the city and its hotels, taking its system as a model. So it’s unlikely for Antalya, with such a developed system, to be empty during future tourism seasons. Still, we are keen not to lose Russian tourists,” he added.
Ünal also noted that in the event of a drop in Russian tourists, Turkey could overcome this by diversifying its tourism, specifically in Antalya.
“We primarily do not want to lose the Russian market. It would be nonsense to claim ‘there will be no problem for us if Russians stop visiting Turkey.’ So we don’t want to make any step that will damage perceptions about us in Russia,” he said, particularly referring to tourism and energy ties.
Ünal is due to make a detailed presentation about the sector’s expectations to other cabinet members on Dec. 7.
“Our main priority must be to take steps to ease tensions. Russia has adopted a black propaganda campaign against Turkey both in Russia and in neighboring countries. We have now taken a series of serious measures against such propaganda,” he said.
“All charter flights have been halted, but there is no problem with ordinary flights and Turkish tour operators are continuing their activities in the Russian market,” Ünal said.
He also noted that there has not been any cancelation of Turkey’s attendance to the Russian Tourism Fair in March 2016.
“We plan to attend the fair. We have not seen any cancelation notification, while we ourselves have not given any ‘no attendance’ notification,” he said.
Turkey’s tourism sector has already suffered due to ongoing economic problems in Russia, with reservations by Russian tourists in Turkey decreasing by around 37 percent at the beginning of 2015 compared to last year.
“We managed to slash this rate to 17 percent with a series of measures, including giving fuel support to planes bringing Russian tourists to Turkey,” Ünal said.
Touching ‘different feelings’
The minister also suggested that a new promotional approach was planned to realize Turkey’s real potential in the tourism sector.
“Turkey needs to deepen its connection to foreign tourists who visit the country, as well as potential visitors.
Over 43 million foreigners visit Turkey every year … Our ministry has various tourism information points to build contact with them, but we should create even more of these points,” Ünal said.
“We need to create new concepts and areas that will trigger different feelings in tourists. In this vein, our sector is now trying to leave behind the ‘all-inclusive’ hotel concept, as it is questionable what feelings such hotels stimulate in people,” he added.