Turkey’s touristic resorts almost empty as crisis deepens in sector
Burak Coşan – ANTALYA
AA photoAs Turkey’s tourism sector faces one of its worst ever years due to diplomatic problems with Russia and rising security concerns, all popular touristic resorts are almost empty, hitting not only hotels but also restaurants and shops.
The number of foreign visitors to Turkey decreased by 16.5 percent to 5.82 million in the first four months of this year compared to the same period of 2015, according to official data. The number of foreign arrivals visiting Turkey slumped by 28 percent in the month of April to 1.75 million compared to the same month of 2015, marking the steepest decline since May 1999.
In many touristic resorts and towns in the Mediterranean, which were once very popular among European and Russian tourists, the crisis is clear simply from looking at the almost empty streets, the lines of available taxis, and the empty local stores.
Airports are also almost deserted, and flights to the major airports of Turkey’s Mediterranean region are full of empty seats, unlike in typical touristic seasons.
An employee from a car rental company near Antalya’s Alanya resort said their business is very calm this year compared to previous summers.
“Our revenue has almost halved this year. This month is almost like a winter month,” said Cumali Bora, the owner a handmade soap shop.
‘Worst in years’
A restauranteur in Alanya said they had been in business for 16 years but had never seen such a bad season as this year.
“We are currently seeing the worst days ever since our opening. We expected foreign arrivals from countries other than Russia, but nobody came up,” said Cengiz Topal in front of his restaurant.
The number of Russian tourists visiting Antalya has dropped by 96 percent amid the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia. The number of German tourists fell by 30 percent in the first five months of the year compared to the same period of 2015, according to official data.
One hotelier in Alanya said he had to cut the number of his staff members from 360 last year to 220 this year. Even this figure is high as the occupancy rate in the hotel has fallen from 85 percent to 25 percent.
“And this is when our hotel is in one of the best positions in the town now. So think about others,” he said.
Another hotelier in Antalya’s Kemer district said he had opted to not open one of his five star hotels this year due to the huge drop in reservations.
“We have even been unable to ensure high occupancy rates in just one of our hotels that is open,” he added.
One businessman in Belek, another town in Antalya, said he has two glass shops in the town, but he plans to close one of them as demand is too low amid the tourism slump.
“We cannot even afford the rents, which are around 60,000 euros annually. While we made around 4,000 Turkish Liras of daily revenue last year, this has now fallen to just 200 liras,” he noted.