The Strategist

Should Tourists in Turkey Be Afraid of Terrorists?

08/13/2015 - 15:19

Turkey has always been a popular tourist destination. However, now the tourists refuse to travel to the country for fear of terrorist attacks. Reduction in the number of tourists may lead to losses of up to EUR 5 billion.
Turkey is the sixth most popular tourist country. Last year, it was visited by 42 million tourists. Revenues amounted to nearly 30 billion Euros. However, the attacks and unrests, that swept the country after the bomb explosion in Suruci, raised the level of the terrorist threat. Together with the operations of the Turkish security forces against the terrorists "Islamic state" and the PKK, this led to a sharp reduction in the number of tourists. According to the Statistical Office of Turkey, it was 13.8 percent less in the first half of this year than in the same period last year.

Nine countries have warned against travel to Turkey

Nine governments (Australia, UK, Russia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Canada, New Zealand and Poland) have officially warned its citizens against traveling to the eastern regions of Turkey, bordering Syria and Iraq after the terrorist attack in Suruci, which claimed dozens of lives. Some further urged its citizens to use public transport in the big cities of Turkey with caution.

Turkey says that there is no threat to tourists

This year looks like a disaster for the Turkish tourism. Meanwhile, the government in Ankara has been slow to comment on this negative trend. Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Abdurrahman Harich, in an interview with Turkish news agency blames some hostile forces that are allegedly trying to stick a label of "dangerous country" on Turkey. To fix the image, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism organizes exhibitions in Europe. Harich says that as a result, only from Germany, came 200 thousand more than expected.

However, such statements do not calm the travel business. A representative of Tour Operators Platform in Turkey Cem Polatoglu pointed out that Turkey could not foresee terrorist attacks. And he is certain that it’s long to wait for an improvement. Another problem, he said, - the influx of refugees in the resort towns such as Bodrum.
Turkey cuts prices
The number of tourists reduced in Izmir because of refugees. President of tourist companies and hotels in the region Aegean Mehmet Isler testifies: "Hundreds of thousands of people flock to our shores in the hope to move to Europe. All the parks and gardens in Izmir are filled with them." According to Isler, now Izmir is harboring 130 thousand refugees only from Syria: "Very sad to see this tragedy. Yet it has a very negative impact on the tourism industry, more so in the high season."

In addition, Mehmet Isler blames increased, according to him, the level of Islamophobia in Europe in the decline in the number of tourists in Turkey. "Competitors are trying to lure tourists using our situation. To keep the public, we had to reduce prices by 25 percent, or loss would have been even more," - says Isler. He believes that losses this year may amount to 5 billion euros. According to him, the government should take immediate action, otherwise next year will be even worse. The only problem is that the new government have not yet been formed after the elections.