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Turkish tourism to be first victim of Russian jet crisis

Russians are the second-largest national group visiting Turkey according to government statistics. (Photo: Cihan)

In a deeply worrying turn of events on Tuesday, Turkish tour operators were biting their nails after Turkey’s downing of a Russia1n fighter jet provoked Moscow to urge citizens to avoid Turkey trips, potentially meaning a major blow to the country’s nearly $4 billion in revenue from Russian visitors per year.

For many years, millions of Russian tourists have been the primary source of tourism revenue for Turkey. In 2014 alone, 4.48 million Russian tourists visited Turkey, bringing in revenue of nearly $4 billion, official figures showed. Turkey hosts some 40 million tourists who generate $34.3 billion in revenue every year. Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying it had repeatedly violated its airspace. Hours after the event, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday advised Russians not to visit Turkey, adding that the threat of terrorism there was no less than in Egypt, where a bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane last month.

Lavrov also said he would not visit Turkey as planned on Nov.

25. Observers said this was apparently Moscow’s first official retaliation to the downing of its jet, a potential heavy blow to the Turkish tourism2 industry. On Tuesday, many Russian users shared tweets suggesting that Russian tourists boycott Turkey and Russia stop buying Turkish-made products. No Turkish government or any private sector officials were available to comment on the issue on Tuesday.

In a second statement that will potentially add to Turkey’s woes, Russia’s state tourism agency Rostourism said it is recommending suspending sales of tour packages to Turkey following the downing of a Russian fighter jet in Syria, RIA news agency reported on Tuesday. Separately on Tuesday, the TASS news agency cited Russian tour operator Natali Tours as saying it will halt sales of tours to Turkey in the near future. Tuesday’s downing of the Russian jet is one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.

Nightmare, shock, losses

The two statements come as a nightmare to the Turkish tourism sector, which earlier said it had pinned its hopes on an anticipated increase in Russian tourists to Turkey.

Russian tourists used to flock to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, particularly the resort city of Antalya. The Turkish tourism industry has already suffered from a difficult 2015 marked by political instability and regional violence in conjunction with a decline in one of the sector’s biggest markets Russia. Between January and October, Antalya alone saw the number of Russian tourists decline by 678,086, a 19.5 percent decline year-on-year. The major drop in Russians taking international trips, including Turkey, stemmed from the sharp devaluation of the ruble brought on by falling global oil prices and the Ukrainian crises.

One of the country’s leading tourism unions, the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (T ROFED), said last month the Turkish tourism industry is likely to close the year with at least $10 billion in losses. The poor numbers have had Turkish hoteliers scrambling to cut prices even in the busy summer months in a bid to fill up empty hotels. Earlier data from Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) figures indicated that tourist revenues fell 6.6 percent between January and September, totaling $24.89 billion.

A total of 80.9 percent of tourist revenue came from foreign visitors, TurkStat had said.

References

  1. ^ Russia, Russia news, russia news, russia latest newsies (www.todayszaman.com)
  2. ^ Turkish tourism, Turkish tourism news, turkish tourism news, turkish tourism latest newsies (www.todayszaman.com)