Turkey has seen rising return of tourists after the past chaotic year as surge of terror attacks and chaos of failed coup bid gradually calm down.
Despite the unpredictability of terrorist attacks which rocked the cities like capital Ankara and Istanbul and political instability, the number of international tourists to Turkey increased in April for the first time since late 2015.
Russia and Turkey reconciled in late 2016 and Russian travel agency has started to book clients for the next season that runs through summer in Turkey.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreign visitors to Turkey rose 18.1 percent in April on year, signaling a hope that Turkey’s tourism could return to glory days.
The tourism crisis in Turkey began in August 2015, but worsened after Turkey shot down the Russian jet near Syria. In response, Russia, which is Turkey’s second largest tourism market, banned travel to Turkey in December 2015.
Russia’s travel ban to Turkey resulted in a 92 percent decline in Russian tourists arrivals in 2016 with an overall drop of 35 percent to 2.49 million compared to a year earlier.
Some 1,400 hotels went up for sale in Antalya alone, prompting the Turkish government to introduce a financial package in 2016 to boost the tourism industry.
With the start of the Eid festival marking the end of the muslim holly month of Ramadan on Sunday in Turkey, industry officials express a certain hope.
“The room occupancy rate is now about 80 percent, most of our guests are from Russia and Turkey. It’s a major change from last year when it was less than 50 percent,” Ismet Yanki, a hotel staff from the Antalya region, told Xinhua.
“2016 is a lost year for us and the tourism sector in general. This year is better but still somewhat of a decline but 2018 will be the rebirth,” said Yanki.
The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism launched an aggressive campaign to attract foreigners to different destinations in the country.
The minister Nabi Avci said Turkey had to diversify tourism offerings, mentioning for example the cruise ship tourism for well-off visitors in resorts of the Mediterranean and the Aegean coasts.
One of the major goals of Turkey’s campaign is to improve the country’s perception and reputation on international, regional and national scale by conveying universal messages on Turkey’s sincerity, generosity, warmness, friendliness, kindness, credibility and safety,” said minister Avci.
Tourism accounts for more than 10 percent of Turkey’s GDP. The industry is also a major source of foreign currencies.
While the Eid festival and the return of Russian tourists is a ray of hope in western Turkey, there is still room for concern in other tourist destinations of Turkey like Istanbul, Turkey’s cultural pearl and capital of the historic Byzantine and Ottoman Empire.
It remains to be seen whether 2017 will prove to be a year of recovery for Turkey’s critically important tourism sector, but it’s off to an encouraging start, according to industry officials. Enditem