Turkey’s embattled tourism sector needs four years to recover: Association
Elif Ergu - ISTANBUL
AFP photoTurkey’s tourism sector, which has been hit by several factors, needs four years to rebound, according to a leading sector representative.
“The next six months will matter a lot. For a full recovery, we need at least four years on the condition that all the conditions go well,” said the head of the Hotel Association Turkey (TÜROB), Timur Bayındır.
Due to a number of terror attacks, the Russian crisis and a failed coup attempt last July, the tourism sector has been experiencing its darkest days. A total of 24 million tourists visited Turkey in the first 11 months of 2016 – a 31 percent decline compared to the same period of 2015, according to Bayındır.
The plunge in tourism revenue is expected to be around 40 percent. The whole sector had a 12.9 percent of share in the country’s GDP in 2015 and produced an 8.3 percent contribution to employment.
“We have seen quite difficult days. The problems in our sector have directly negatively affected 54 other sectors. After a harsh year, we also started 2017 under bad conditions,” said Bayındır.
He noted that the sector started to face problems in 2013, but the steepest plunge both in the number of tourist arrivals and tourism income was seen in 2016 amid a number of fatal terror attacks.
In order to be able to overcome these losses and to recover its image, Turkey needs to launch a comprehensive promotional campaign, according to Bayındır.
“Despite all negativities, Istanbul is a wonderful city, which attracted huge investments in tourism. This is also the case for many other parts of Turkey. We must all launch an aggressive promotional campaign together with leading international companies. We must tell this again and again,” he said, adding that the country’s image had been great until five years ago.
“I, however, do not know who will pay for such a comprehensive campaign. Our sector has been in a very bad position. Even Turkish Airlines has cut its budget,” he said, adding that the country’s tourism minister was not a natural member of the Economic Coordination Board.