Turkey: the tourism industry is in crisis
In Turkey, the summer of 2015, will be remembered as one of the worst summers for the tourism sector. The issue is inevitably linked to the complex situation of the country; in fact Turkey has problems related to terrorism, and to an unprecedented political crisis.
During these recent months, in fact, there was a wave of terrorist attacks that have hit several areas of the country. The attacks against the security forces, by now, have become almost daily.
The recent decisions of the government in Ankara about the problems related to both the Islamic state and both the Kurdish opposition, led at the beginning of the bombing against the militants of the Islamic state in Syria and the Kurds in northern Iraq – in what the leaders Turks called “war on terror synchronized.” Turkey is suffering, as reaction, the inevitable intensification of terrorist attacks and violence against the police and army.
The array of terrorist attempts, which repeatedly hitting the country, is not unique. The responsible are, in fact, members both of the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK) both of the army of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation front (DHKP-C), – which Ankara believe being in league with the PKK.
Furthermore, Turkey has launched an attack against the Isis locations in Syria to destroying -according with Turkish sources – all the Isis objectives that threatened the border between Syria and Turkey. The Turkish authorities, however, have not asked for further NATO military presence in Turkey and the Atlantic Alliance is not involved in the creation of a buffer zone in Syria to protect the refugees: The question, however, there seems to be an understanding between the Mediterranean Country and the United States, in order to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria, along the border with Turkey. The Turkish operations have also had the approval of Saudi Arabia, one of the states at the forefront of operations anti-Isis.
Turkish operations against jihadi militias of the Islamic State have been accepted by the other Countries with satisfaction, after Ankara was criticized for an alleged indulgence towards the Caliphate. However, the Turkish action against Kurdish rebels of the PKK, didn’t have the same international consensus, because Turkey was accused to have broken the truce in force since 2013.
From the political point of view, however, the problem that is crippling the country relates to the failure of negotiations to form a coalition government, with Davutoglu (AKP), which acknowledged the impossibility of giving birth to an executive, and it has put the issue in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The current scenario, therefore, portends the holding of new elections in the autumn.
This situation has inevitably caused the crisis in the tourism sector. According to data provided by the Ministry of Tourism Turkish, the arrivals from abroad fell to 14.89 million in the first six months of the year, down 2.25% over the same period in 2014. Even more obvious is the collapse in revenue, estimated in – 13.8% in the second quarter of 2015.
The revenues have recorded data even worse: according to the National Institute of Statistics data, from March to June, the industry fell by 13.8%.
The outlook for the official data in the months of July and August are “a dramatic decline”, as explained by Timur Bayindir, president of Turob, among the major trade associations.
By analysing the data in detail we note that arrivals from northern and continental Europe -with the exception of Germany- have declined sharply. In addition, the cruise companies that had Istanbul as an organized stop, they decided to cancel the stop in the Turkish city, as had happened during the protests in Gezi Park.
Another reason of the touristic sector crisis is the fall of the presence of Russian tourists. Russian, in fact, suffer because of the devaluation of the rouble, and, as far as concern touristic data, it is estimated that only in the first seven months of the year over half a million Russians could not do the usual holiday on the Mediterranean Sea.
A decrease of about 10% has also damaged the Aegean coast, despite its popular beaches and archaeological treasures. The area, in fact, could not stand the comparison with the nearby Greek islands, which have attracted tourists for the most competitive prices.
One of the positive items, however, concerns the presence of tourists in Istanbul, with an increase of 8.3% between January and July. The main increase (in potential further growth after the nuclear deal and the distention of diplomatic relations) is due to the arrival of the Iranians tourists. In perspective, the best news for Turkey is perhaps the opening of the Chinese tourism market, with a boom of 61%, although the numbers remain low with a total of hundred and forty-four thousand arrivals.
The strategy implemented by the government, to reduce losses (estimated at two digits) resulted in the postponement of two weeks of the new school year; this action hopes to push the families to take this opportunity to make new holiday. The Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, has announced that this year the schools will reopen on September 28, instead of 14, “in line with the demands of the tourism sector.”
Because of the low summer gains, in fact, in recent weeks have increased the calls of the mayors of the tourist province of Mugla, Aegean Sea, to request the postponement of school two weeks, to include on the holiday weekend also for Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), 24 to 27 September.