People, Travel

Turkey Minister Expects More Iranian Tourists

Turkey Minister Expects More Iranian TouristsTurkey Minister Expects More Iranian Tourists

Turkey is planning to increase the number of Iranian tourists as it prepares to diversify its sources of tourism due to a significant downturn in the Russian and European markets amid rising security concerns.

“[Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu] has stated that we wish to have more flights scheduled to Iran in the context of bilateral tourism relations,” a Turkish diplomatic source told the Hurriyet Daily News.

“Cavusoglu also said that we would be pleased to see more Iranian airlines fly to various points in Turkey to enable Iranian tourists to comfortably travel to Turkey,” said the same source.

Tourism fell by 10.32% year-on-year in February to 1.24 million people, data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry showed; the decline was the biggest since October 2006.

The industry is also suffering from a chill in relations with Russia – typically a major source of tourism revenue for Turkey – as Russian visitors fell by more than half during February.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara have worsened since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last year. On Friday, Russia extended its travel ban on Turkey.

The number of foreign arrivals declined 8.5% in the first two months of the year to around 2.4 million, according to the data.

Furthermore, fewer Iranians traveled to Turkey during the two-week Norouz holiday season (March 20 – April 1), with official reports pointing to a 10% decline in flights to Turkey.