Turkey tourism industry experiences worst summer in 25 years amid terrorism and coup

Figures show visitor numbers drop heavily even before attempted overthrow of government

Simon Calder
Wednesday 30 November 2016 17:05 GMT
Instability in Turkey has put many visitors off
Instability in Turkey has put many visitors off (Reuters)

At the end of July, the beaches of southern Turkey and the bars of Istanbul should be busy with foreign visitors, as the tourism season peaks. But instead the turmoil in the nation means its tourist industry is experiencing the worst summer since the early 1990s.

Terrorism and political instability has triggered an unprecedented switch away from Turkey. Figures just released for June – before the attempted military coup – show a fall of 41 per cent in international arrivals compared with 2015.

The travel industry expects the numbers to get significantly worse for the height of the season.

The trend in the statistics issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is for the decline to increase by a further 6 per cent monthly.

This points to a fall of 47 per cent in July and 53 per cent in August. However, the outcome could be even worse if many prospective tourists are deterred by the attempted coup on 14-15 July and the government crackdown since then.

A state of emergency was declared on 21 July and is expected to prevail for three months, coinciding with the end of the tourist season.

The market leader from the UK and Germany to Turkey is Thomas Cook. It revealed that it had cut capacity to Turkey by 40 per cent, leading to a £100m reduction in revenue between April and June this year.

Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive, blamed the terrorist attacks earlier the year for a drop in demand.

The June figure for UK visitors to Turkey shows a fall of slightly more than one-third. In 2015, British holidaymakers arrived at a rate of 12,000 a day; this year, the number is below 8,000. The Foreign Office warns British travellers that the security environment “remains potentially volatile” and is urging them to carry passports and printed copies of e-visas at all times.

One hope for the Turkish tourism industry is that the slump in sterling since the EU referendum could trigger more demand from British visitors. Costs are far lower than in Spain – which is gaining millions more holidaymakers this year as a result of the downturn in travel to Turkey.

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