TRAVEL GAZETTE – Turkey’s tourism is suffering from increasing terror threats and the sanctions imposed by Russia, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has said.
The number of foreign arrivals in March dropped by almost 13 percent over the same period last year, the ministry said in its latest report.
The visits by Germans, the largest group of tourists to Turkey, dipped by 17 percent, while the number of Japanese arrivals fell by almost 50 percent, the report said.
According to the ministry, some 1.65 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in March as against 1.89 million for last year.
“Turkey hasn’t yet seen the worst as the figures have always been low in March,” said Irfan Alis, the owner of a souvenir shop in the Aegean coastal town of Gumuldur.
In his view, the worst may come in the following months.
“My shop is located within the very popular four-star hotel in town,” Alis explained. “The hotel has a capacity of 2,000 and of which only 200 is currently occupied.”
Only 10 to 15 percent of the tourists are foreigners in the region, he added.
Turkey has been hit by five bombing attacks this year alone, with the latest one rocking the northwestern city of Bursa on Wednesday, in which the female bomber was killed and 13 others injured.
Two attacks on tourist sites in Istanbul in January and March killed 16 foreign tourists, including 12 Germans.
The United States embassy in Ankara, just one day before the Bursa bombing, warned once again of “credible” terrorist threats to touristic areas in the country.
Adding to the woes are a travel ban slapped by Moscow right after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November last year.
Russians used to be Turkey’s second largest source of tourists, but the arrivals dropped to 23,947 in the first three months of this year, marking a year-on-year fall of almost 60 percent.
According to the Tourism Data Bank, Turkey is expected to see a loss of 6.5 million tourists and a sharp decline of 7.5 billion U.S. dollars in tourism revenue for the year 2016.