Turkey’s Tourism Suffered From Extremist Attacks
Turkey’s economy is suffering in the face of a string of extremist attacks—including the massacre of New Year’s revelers, most of them foreigners—and insecurity following the failed coup in July against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that saw more than 270 people killed.
Tourism, a key component of the economy as well as a substantial foreign currency earner, has taken a hit—not least because Russian visitors have stayed away in the wake of a diplomatic spat over Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane in November 2015, AP reported.
“2016 was a lost year for Turkish tourism,” said Cetin Gurcun, secretary-general of Turkey’s travel agency association, TURSAB. “It is impossible for Turkey to give up on tourism, but the most important priority of the sector is security. The first thing a tourist looks for when choosing a destination is peace and safety. Only then do they research service quality and price.”
There was a time when tourism in Turkey was red hot, climbing from 10.5 million visitors in 2000 to 36.2 million people in 2015, making it the sixth-most visited destination in the world. The sector earned $31.5 billion in 2015. But all that came to a halt last year, with a 30% drop in visitors, from 34.8 million in January-November in 2015 to a little over 24 million for the same period in 2016. Yasemin Pirinccioglu, general manager of the VIP Event travel agency, said foreigners who had visited before were still returning.
“But the people who are planning to come for the first time to Turkey, they’re postponing their trips,” she said.