Turkish tourism sector to launch Euro campaign to overcome Russian losses
DHA PhotoTurkish tourism sector players expecting a continued decline in the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey in 2016 unless the current diplomatic crisis between the two countries is resolved will launch a promotional campaign in Europe under the leadership of the Tourism Ministry to overcome the potential losses, according to a leading sector representative. The sector will also focus on the China and India markets in the medium-term, he added.
“Although Russia was the second largest source of tourists for Turkey, it was not our only source. Our sector lures tourists from neighboring countries, Europe, the Middle East and the United States in high numbers as well. The share of Russian tourists in the overall number is around 12 percent. Our largest source is European countries, as their share is 45 percent. We believe this rate will increase after we start a promotional campaign in these markets under the leadership of the Tourism Ministry,” said Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) head Başaran Ulusoy, in an exclusive e-mailed interview with Reuters.
Ulusoy also noted sector players have expected a dramatic rise in the number of tourists visiting Turkey from India and China in the medium-term.
“In the first 10 months of the year, the number of Chinese tourists increased by 67 percent to 282,000 compared to the same period of 2014. We can reach much higher figures in the medium-term if we can sustain the current wave,” he said.
After the Russian warplane was downed by Turkey on Nov. 24, Russia announced a number of economic and trade sanctions against Turkey, including the suspension of charter flights and a ban on tour sales to Turkey.
Due to a continuing decrease in the purchasing power of Russian people amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis and Western sanctions against the country, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey already dropped by 19 percent to 3.54 million in the first 10 months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014.
February, March reservations to be ‘key’
Ulusoy said reservations in February and March 2016 will be a crucial indicator about how much of an impact the number of Russian tourists will have on the sector. “Russian tourists generally make last-minute reservations rather than early reservations. In this vein, they usually make their summer reservations in February and March,” he said. “We hope the problems will be resolved by then at least. If the crisis continues, we’ll see further decline in the number of Russian tourists in 2016.”
Tourism income from Russian tourists was around $2.7 billion last year, but this figure will see a serious drop unless the crisis is resolved, according to Başaran.
Tourist income at $46.5 billion enabled Turkey to finance some 53 percent of its current account deficit last year, according to official data.
Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal had earlier said measures would be taken to overcome the losses from the Russian market, including the extension of $6,000 in fuel support for each airplane that carries 100 people or more.
A total of 33.06 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in the first 10 months of the year with tourism revenue totaling $24.9 billion.
TÜRSAB had earlier announced its yearly forecasts at 42 million foreign tourists and $35-36 billion in tourism revenue.