Terror Makes Tourists Run from Turkey

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It is estimated that this year Turkey could lose eight billions of dollars due to the absence of Russians and Germans

Terror Makes Tourists Run from Turkey

Originally appeared at Politika, translated by A. Djurich/А. Ђурић exclusively for SouthFront

The bombs that lately almost every day quake Ankara, Istanbul and the cities of southeastern Anatolia, wrapped in black hundreds, thousands of families. But the echo of these murderous attacks resonates strongly in Berlin, London, Copenhagen, especially among the local tourists who this year had planned to spend vacation in Turkey.

It all began in late November last autumn, when Turkish planes in the border area to Syria shot down a Russian bomber SU-24. The government in Moscow, which claims that its plane did not violate Turkish airspace, immediately, in addition to sanctions, recommended its citizens: do not go to Turkey. Number of visitors from that country in December fell by 47 percent. This downgrade continues. So far 4.5 million Russians yearly spent vacation in Turkey and they had reputation to be very generous.

One misfortune, as it usually happens, never comes alone. In Ankara three terrorist bombings killed more than 160 people. In the center of Istanbul in January, on the square between the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, 11 German tourists were killed, and 11 more become disabled for life. Attacks on tourists continued: mid-March, a suicide bomber, a member of the Islamic state, in the center of the city on the Bosphorus has killed three Israelis and one Iranian while 20 foreign nationals were wounded.

“The consequences of this crisis will be much stronger than was initially predicted in the darkest scenarios. We are obviously losing visitors not only from Russia but from Germany and other Western countries”, said Davut Cetin, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Antalya, a city on the Mediterranean, which practically lives off tourism.

Bad reputation is heard far and wide. The government in Berlin, after the latest attacks in Turkey, has temporarily closed embassy in Ankara and the consulate and school in Istanbul. The USA and the Israel have warned their citizens not to come to Turkey, but if they have to go, then they should be careful.

The Netherland has decided to evacuate staff and close consulate in Istanbul because of “the threat of possible terrorist attacks.”

The world’s largest tour operator TUI has recently announced that the number of bookings for Turkey declined by 40 percent. Many arrangements were annulled by the well-known company “Thomas Cook”. After sufferings in Istanbul tourists apparently do not want to risk anything and are now turning to Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Turkish companies in large numbers appeared on the tourist trade fair in Berlin, to attract visitors. “We traveled there with high expectations, and we returned without hope”, said a well known travel journalist Fehmi Kofteoglu.

In last year Ankara earned $ 32 billion from tourism. This was an eight percent less than in 2014, which is explained by the renewing of the conflict, which began in July, between the security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). But it seems that this is just the beginning, the worst is still ahead. Some hotels this year will not open their gates, while tens of thousands of workers will lose their jobs.

Tourism business is in crisis like never before. Businessmen in the area now wangle the best they can: with lower prices and increased advertising they are trying to attract more tourists especially from China and India.

In Antalya, where in April starts “EXPO 2016” exhibition, is announcing attractive events: appearance of Madonna and Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities, underwater submarines cruising… But, in this city they are aware that this is just a drop in the Mediterranean Sea that can not make up for lost if they do not get the Russians and Germans, who for years were the main guests.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu this year has promised to help the tourism industry worth 90 million dollars. This will certainly make it possible to reduce the price of the arrangements, but they never were not too high. “The government should first of all lead such a policy which will guarantee the security of foreign guests”, tourism related workers explain.

In the beginning it was estimated that Turkey could lose eight billion dollars this year, primarily due to a boycott by the Russians. But if number of guests from Western countries falls, primarily from Germany, then this amount of money could be even higher, says vice-president of the Association of Mediterranean Hoteliers, Jusuf Hadgisuleiman.

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