Turkey is known as a popular destination for tourists. But more and more visitors are concerned about the escalation in terror attacks. The country’s tourism industry could lose up to five billion dollars.
Turkey became the sixth most attractive tourist destination in 2014 – with 42 million visitors. The country’s annual revenues from tourism are as high as 30 billion dollars. However, recent terror attacks and the unrest following the Suruc bombing have increased security concerns in the country. Along with these concerns, the government’s operations against the terror militia “Islamic State” and the Kurdish PKK have led to a dramatic decrease in the total revenue generated by tourism.
The Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) indicates a drop of 13.8 percent in the first six moths of this year ,compared to the same period in 2014.
The decline in Turkish tourism started last year when the EU imposed sanctions against Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine. Turkey, which welcomes some 4.5 million Russian tourists each year, has faced a 30 percent drop in visitors from there as a result of the economic downturn that followed the sanctions in Russia.
Civil wars in neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Syria, have also contributed to the dwindling number of tourists in Turkey. Operations of Turkish security forces against the PKK and the “Islamic State” caused growing concerns regarding eastern Turkey, along with the resort towns on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
After the deadly attack in Suruc, nine countries – including Germany and Russia – have issued travel warnings to their citizens, discouraging travel to the border regions of Turkey. Another seven countries – New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Britain, Poland, Ireland and Canada – have encouraged their citizens to avoid eastern Turkish cities. Some have also advised their citizens to be cautious when using public transportation in major metropolitan areas of the country.
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(Photograph, of cats at an Istanbul market: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)