Turkey’s tourism industry has suffered sharp decline, figures show
Turkey’s tourism industry has suffered a sharp decline due to a sense of insecurity created in the wake of terrorist attacks in the country.
Official figures show the number of foreign tourists visiting the main city of Istanbul dropped from 11.6 million in 2015 to 9.2 million in 2016, media reported on Thursday.
The decline is attributed to multiple terrorist attacks in the city.
During 2015 and 2016, Istanbul’s main tourist centers were attacked by either Kurdish militants fighting against the Ankara government or members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, mainly active in Syria and Iraq.
“The airport was attacked, Sultanahmet was attacked, then Taksim was attacked, and finally the Reina (nightclub),” said Cetin Gurcun, the secretary general of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
Gurcun referred to the attack by a gunman that shot dead about 40 people at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul during the early hours of the New Year’s Day.
Tourism workers say the string of terrorist attacks has created a sense of fear among foreign visitors.
“The heart of the problem is that terrorist attacks do not stop. People who go to visit a country want a guarantee… I understand them, it is a human reflex,” said Yavuz Indere, who has worked as a hotel receptionist in Istanbul for nearly half a century.
“I’ve been doing this job for 45 years, obviously I’ve had tough years, but this time it was different,” he said at his tiny hotel near the historic Sultanahmet complex, the scene of a deadly attack on January 12, 2016, which rocked the tourism industry.
According to Gurcun, 42 million people visited Turkey in 2015, while 30 million traveled to the country in 2016.
“In foreign currency terms, revenues amounted to 31.6 billion dollars in 2015, and we had a fall of almost 10 billion dollars in 2016,” Gurcun said.
Iran and Germany have the highest number of visitors to the country, followed by Saudi Arabia, Britain and France. Americans and Russians also make up a large portion of the tourists visiting Turkey.