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Turkey: Tourists heading elsewhere

March 30, 2016

The tense security situation is hurting one of Turkey’s key industries, tourism. 10.32 % fewer vacationers than in January represents the biggest single drop in tourist business in ten years.

Türkei Istanbul Altstadt Sultanahmet Hagia Sophia Moschee
Image: Getty Images/D. Cannon

The spate of bombing attacks earlier this year has had noticeable repercussions - as have the tensions with Russia. On Tuesday, Istanbul's tourism ministry announced that 51.5 percent fewer Russian tourists have been arriving in Turkey this year than last. Relations between the two countries have been strained since Turkish forces downed a Russian jet fighter in November, 2015.

The security situation in Turkey has gone from bad to worse since January, when twelve German travelers were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul. Then, in February, an attack in Ankara claimed thirty lives, and, in March, another attack, also in Ankara, took 35 more. Yet another suicide bombing killed four people and injured 39 in one of Istanbul’s most heavily frequented shopping boulevards the weekend before Easter.

The nosedive in tourist figures is expected to continue. On Monday, Israel raised its travel warning and called on its citizens to leave Turkey as swiftly as possible.

Political economists are predicting that tourist revenues, could well drop by nearly one fourth this year. That works out to approximately seven billion euros in damage to the country's economy.

The Turkish government is doing what it can to soften the blow to the tourism industry, whose revenues make up a significant portion of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In February, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced plans for several billion euros’ worth of aid for the sector.

at/mm (dpa, reuters)