Turkish hoteliers eye Russian tourists to cut losses
AA photoAfter seeing the largest drop in the number of foreign tourists in decades, Turkey’s hoteliers are hoping the restoration of ties between Turkey and Russia will result in Russian tourists flocking to the country over the second half of the year, cutting some of the sector’s heavy losses.
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.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked over the phone on June 29 and agreed to revive ties, which have been strained since Turkey downed a Russian jet last November.
Putin said after the phone conversation that he had asked his government to begin “the process of normalizing general trade and economic ties with Turkey.”
“I want to start with the question of tourism... we are lifting the administrative restrictions in this area,” Putin told government ministers in televised comments.
Travel companies in Russia were banned from selling tours to Turkey after the jet incident.
Osman Ayık, the head of the Hoteliers’ Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED), was hopeful that Turkey would be able to receive Russian tourists this summer.
“Of course for the remainder of the year we will not be able to achieve the high levels that had been recorded in 2014,” Ayık told Sputnik. “But this is only the beginning. The main thing is that it was marked by an important positive development in this direction.”
He further said that he expected the tourism sector to see an overall improvement. “We are confident that Russian tourists want to regain the freedom to visit our resorts. We expect that the negative trends caused by the crisis between the two countries will be overcome in the foreseeable future,” he said.
“We need only a small signal from Moscow [because] in Turkey we are ready to meet our Russian guests. None of the Russian flags were removed from the Turkish hotels; we expect and hope to see them soon. Personally, I’m very positive about the situation with regard to the prospects for the normalization of Turkish-Russian relations. The Turkish people will do everything that they can. For our part we are ready to take all the necessary steps to contribute to the normalization of relations,” Hüseyin Baraner, chairman of the Europe-Turkey Tourism Business Council, said.
Baraner added Turkey’s facilities were ready to receive Russian tourists.