People, Travel

Crisis Worsens as Turkey Arrivals Show Record Drop

Crisis Worsens as Turkey Arrivals Show Record DropCrisis Worsens as Turkey Arrivals Show Record Drop

Turkey experienced its biggest drop in foreign tourist arrivals on record last month, as tensions with Russia and a series of deadly bombings kept visitors away from the country’s beaches.

The number of arrivals dropped for a ninth consecutive month, the longest streak of year-on-year declines in records going back to 2006. The 1.75 million who visited the country in April number 28.1% fewer than in the same month last year — a decline that also amounts to the biggest on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, Skift reported.

Tourism accounts for 6.2% of Turkey’s economic output, according to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, and 8% of employment — not counting its impact on other industries. The decline in tourism revenue could deepen a crisis that has already forced hundreds of resorts on Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to scrap plans to hire seasonal workers.

The fall in tourist arrivals was led by a 79% decline in number of Russian visitors, who’ve stayed away amid the diplomatic fallout between the two countries that began after the Turkish military shot down a Russian warplane that strayed into its airspace in November.

Militant attacks and political turmoil have clobbered economies in an array of countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Tunisia — in Turkey, security concerns have arisen amid a resurgence in the decades-old war with Kurdish groups since July, and the spillover from Syria’s civil war next door.

Egypt, whose tourism industry is already suffering from five years of political turmoil, saw tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2016 fall by 40% from a year earlier as Russia, the UK and Germany imposed a travel ban following the October downing of a commercial aircraft over Sinai that killed 224 passengers and crew.