The latest official figures show that the number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell by 28 percent in April in what appears to be a result of tensions with Russia and security concerns after a wave of bombings.
The drop has been described as the biggest in 17 years and is feared to undermine the Turkish economy which is already under strains due to slowing exports and weak private investment, Reuters reported.
The report has further quoted economists as predicting that tourism revenue will drop by a quarter this year, costing around $8 billion, or the equivalent of 1 percent of GDP.
The drop-off does not bode well as Turkey heads into the May-August high tourism season, when European holidaymakers usually flock to its southern beaches, Reuters warned.
Tourism in Turkey fell 28.07 percent year-on-year in April, with 1.75 million people arriving, data showed. It was the biggest drop since May in 1999, when the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group launched a bombing campaign and warned tourists to stay away after the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The number of Russian visitors all but evaporated, falling by nearly 80 percent, the data showed. Russians traditionally account for one of the biggest groups of foreign visitors after Germany, but they have stopped coming after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria last year, souring relations. The number of Germans fell by more than a third, Reuters added.
The pronounced drop in tourism is yet another headache for a government trying to win back investor confidence.
Sentiment has been battered by security fears and worries about President Tayyip Erdogan’s growing power. It was given a boost this week when Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, seen as an anchor of investor confidence, retained his position in the new cabinet. However, Simsek’s authority has been curbed in his new role, and security concerns continue, Reuters added.