People, Travel

Dispute With Russia Hurting Turkey Tourism

Dispute With Russia Hurting Turkey TourismDispute With Russia Hurting Turkey Tourism

Differences on key political issues between the Kremlin and Ankara, which has already hurt Turkish tourism, have now completely spilled over to the key travel industry.

Following the downing of Russia’s F-16 fighter plane by Turkish forces, who claimed it had violated Turkish airspace, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the “backstabbing” would have serious repercussions on the two states’ already-strained relations.

Making good on his warning, Putin is expected to announce measures on Monday against Turkey, including the suspension of visa-free travel and halting tours to Turkey, Russian media reported.

Russian tourist companies have already stopped selling trips to Turkey and flights are being made there only to bring back holidaymakers who are already there, RT quoted deputy head of the Russian Tour Operators’ Association, Oleg Safonov, as saying.

Turkey has sent a request for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet with Putin on Monday during the climate summit in Paris, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin said. But Russia has not yet responded, Bloomberg reported.

However, Yui Ushakov, Putin’s aide, told reporters that the president has refused to contact the Turkish leader considering that Erdogan has shown an “unwillingness to simply apologize for the incident,” CNBC reported.

In a retaliatory move, Turkey on Saturday advised its citizens to postpone non-urgent travel to Russia.

According to Bloomberg, Turkey is the most popular foreign destination for Russians, with 3.3 million making the trip in the first nine months of this year. They make up more than 10% of the tourists in Turkey, the second-highest number after Germany.

 Key Role

Tourism accounted for $21 billion of income for Turkey in the nine months to September, and plays a key role in keeping the sizable gap in the current account under control. Prior to this week, the deficit-to-GDP ratio was expected to fall to 5% this year from 5.8% in 2014 and 8% a year earlier, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

“Turkey’s tourism industry has already been shaken by growing geopolitical tensions,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya at London Capital Group. “Cancellations from Russians can reverse the recent improvement in the current account gap.”

Other regional countries, including Iran, are gearing up to pounce on the opportunity that has arisen from the dispute.

Tehran and Moscow have already agreed to set up tourism offices in the two countries in a bid to expand tourism ties.

Experts are of the opinion that the worsening political rift between Turkey and Russia and the growing diplomatic ties between Tehran and Moscow has put Iran in a position to prize Russian tourists away from Turkey.

For more than two years senior Iranian officials have made known that the government is keen to revive the nascent tourism industry and attract more foreign travelers to the world famous historic sites across the country, namely in Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd , Kerman , Kashan and Tabriz.