Turkey sees over 40% drop in visitors amid security crisis

July 28, 2016 1:53 pm
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Some 2.43 million foreigners came to Turkey in June, down 40.86 percent on June 2015, the tourism ministry said in its latest release © AFP/File

, Ankara, Turkey, Jul 28 – The number of foreigners visiting Turkey dropped over 40 percent in June to its lowest level this year as the impact of attacks and previous tensions with Russia caused havoc for the vital tourism industry, statistics showed Thursday.

The latest figures do not take into account the June 28 attack on Istanbul’s main international airport blamed on jihadists and the July 15 military coup which are likely to have further unnerved tourists.

The fall will worry many working in the tourism industry as June is usually the start of the popular summer season. Last year, the industry brought in $35.1 billion in revenues.

Some 2.43 million foreigners came to Turkey in June, down 40.86 percent on June 2015, the tourism ministry said in its latest release.

Arrivals from Russia were down 93.01 percent in June compared to the same period in 2015 and overall tourist numbers from Russia fell 87.36 percent in the first half of the year.

Visitors from Iran were up 8.26 percent in June compared with the same period in 2015.

The triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main airport last month left at least 47 people dead and at least 200 injured.

The numbers also do not take into account the attempted coup which temporarily closed the airport and resulted in days of delays.

Iran, a key expanding market, however halted package tours to Turkey earlier this month in the wake of the coup.

The country had already experienced multiple terror attacks by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants in the first half of 2016.

The drop in Turkey’s tourism sector will worry many working in the industry as June is usually the start of the popular summer season © AFP / Ozan Kose

However since a rapprochement between Turkey and Russia in June over the row over Ankara’s shooting down of a Russian plane in November last year, experts believe the normalisation of relations could mean some late bookings to Turkey.

Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC Partners, said: “The recent normalisation with Russia might alleviate the pain in the sector to some extent and could trigger some last-minute reservations to Turkey, but hopes are saved for next year, in our view.”

The first Russian flight carrying package tourists to Turkey since the diplomatic crisis landed in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya on July 9.

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