You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Turkey hopes to weather tourism crisis

Associated Press Associated Press 18/09/2016 Menelaos Hadjicostis

With summer drawing to a close, Turkey is counting the cost of a tough year that saw a string of terrorist bombings and the fallout from a diplomatic spat with Moscow that cut deep into the country's crucial tourist trade.

And then right bang in the middle of summer, the economic backdrop got more precarious after an attempted military coup that saw more than 270 people killed, the imposition of a state of emergency and the subsequent arrest and dismissal of thousands of supposed sympathisers.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek conceded the failed coup on July 15 and its aftermath have ``weakened'' the economy even as he praised its resilience in the face of such adversity.

Tourism, a crucial foreign-currency earner for a country in constant need of foreign currency to plug a yawning current account deficit, has borne the brunt of the economic fallout.

That's mainly due to a precipitous 89 per cent drop in Russian tourist arrivals after a diplomatic breakdown between the two countries brought on by Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane last year. Russia was Turkey's second-largest tourist market with 4.5 million people visiting places like Turkey's tourism capital Antalya in 2014.

With many Russians holidaying elsewhere, Turkey stands to lose between $US8 and $US10 billion ($A11b - $A13b) in tourism revenue by the end of the year, according to Cetin Gurcun, Secretary General Turkey's travel agency association TURSAB. No amount of deals could fully plug that gap.

``If we consider the volume of the Russian market, it's not easy to fill the void,'' Gurcun told The Associated Press.

Turkey-Russia relations are now back on track, but Gurcun doesn't expect the Russian market to rebound before next year.

It wasn't just Russians who have stayed away from Turkey's beaches and the cultural delights of places like Istanbul.

Thomas Cook, the British-based holiday company, said recently that demand for Turkish holidays was ``significantly below last year's level'' and that its overall bookings for the summer 2016 season were down by five per cent, largely because of this particular ``geopolitical disruption".

Official Turkish figures for the whole of the summer tourist season have yet to be released. But it's clear there's been a hit. June and July alone saw tourism arrivals plunge an annual 40 and 36 per cent, respectively.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon