Monday, March 21, 2016

Tourists Shunning Turkey

Tourists Shunning Turkey

by Stephen Lendman

Tourists are shunning Turkey for good reason. Russian sanctions following Erdogan’s ordering the downing of one of its warplanes in Syrian airspace last year proved costly.

Moscow banned charter flights. Russian travel agents suspended tours. Millions of Russian tourists aren’t coming. Nor are around a million visiting for business and other reasons.

Visa-free travel was cancelled. Loss of billions of dollars of trade and investment means harder times for Turkey’s economy, tourism accounting for 11%.

Car and suicide bombings in Ankara and Istanbul make tourists leery about coming. 

Israel warned its citizens to stay away following the killing of three of its nationals and wounding of five others in an apparent Saturday Istanbul suicide bombing.

Its anti-terrorism office said the incident “underscores the threat against tourist targets throughout Turkey.” Tens of thousands of Israelis normally visit Turkey annually.

Expect fewer numbers ahead, following three violent incidents this year, suggesting more to come.

Turkish tourism prospects ahead look bleak. Industry figures show hotel occupancy rates plunged by half. Summer bookings are down 40%.

Hundreds of tourist related business are up for sale. Others shut down for lack of business. Three-star resort operator Bora Adali hasn’t found a buyer he seeks.

“We are facing a big crisis, and its scope hasn’t yet been recognized,” he said. Jobs of about a million people are at stake. “There is no future in this industry,” he believes.

In 2012, Istanbul was one of the world’s five top tourist destinations. No longer. Germany warned its citizens to avoid large crowds in popular city locations, along with elsewhere in the country. Its Foreign Ministry warned of further violent incidents.

Tourism is vital to Turkey’s economy. Last year, revenues contracted for the first time since 2010, declining at a faster pace in January - 19% year-over-year.

Nothing in prospect suggests improvement, not with Erdogan in power.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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