Turkey’s struggling tourism sector hopes to reap diplomatic fruits as foreign arrivals plunge
AA photoTurkey’s beleaguered tourism sector hopes to reap the fruits of a number of diplomatic steps to improve ties with Israel and Russia, as the number of foreign arrivals to the country plummeted to record lows.
The number of foreign arrivals to Turkey slumped by 34.7 percent in May compared to the same month of 2015 to 2.49 million, according to data released by the Tourism Ministry on June 28.
This marked the steepest decline since the 1990s.
Arrivals from Russia slump 92 percent
In May, Turkey saw dramatic declines mainly in arrivals from Russia and Western countries amid rising security concerns and the diplomatic row with Russia, which was the second largest foreign tourist source for Turkey until recently.
The number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey declined by around 92 percent to 41,004 in May compared to the same month of 2015, while the number of arrivals from Germany dropped by 31.5 percent and from Britain by 29.4 percent to around 427,000 and 219,000, respectively.
The number of foreign people visiting Turkey decreased by 22.9 percent to 8.3 million in the first five months of this year compared to the same period of 2015, data also showed.
Tourism players expect revenue losses of around $15 billion this year.
The head of the Travel Agencies Association of Turkey (TÜRSAB), Başaran Ulusoy, reminded that the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey hit its highest in 2008 at over 550,000.
“With the gradual improvement in our ties with Israel, we expect a dramatic rise in the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey,” he told Anadolu Agency, adding that the number of arrivals from this country has already increased by 40 percent this year compared to the previous year.
The head of the Hoteliers’ Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED) said the target from this market should be 1 million tourists.
“With the deal, we expect a rapid recovery in the Israeli market. Our target should be to attract at least 1 million Israeli tourists, as Israel is very proximate geographically. They can arrive in Turkey in a very short time, usually choosing Istanbul and Antalya to visit,” said TÜROFED head Osman Ayık, as quoted by Anadolu Agency.
Saying that the improving ties with both Israel and Russia would have a very positive impact on the sector, the head of the Turkish Hoteliers’ Association (TÜROB), Timur Bayındır, added: “This is what should be done. We can see further yields if our ties with Egypt are recovered.”