Mehmet Çınar / Antalya, Oct 12 () - Turkey’s tourism industry may close this year with around 10-11 billion dollars in losses amid a dramatic loss in Russian tourists and a sharp slash in hotel room prices across the country, according to leading sector representatives.
“Turkey’s tourism sector grew in double digit figures in the last 25 years. The sector has, however, faced tough times with the rise in Russia’s economic problems, security concerns especially after the Arab Spring in the region and the Syria crisis,” said Osman Ayık, the head of the Hoteliers’ Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED).
The country saw around a 25 percent decrease in the number of tourists from Russia and its neighbors, although a 9 percent increase was seen in the number of German and European tourists, he noted.
“The rise in the number of European tourists cannot, however, enable the sector to compensate its losses from the Russian market. In this vein, we expect a loss in income. The losses will differ across the regions, but we most probably won’t close the year with positive growth” he noted.
Sharp drops in hotel room prices
Ayık said coastline hotels especially have made sharp cuts in their prices.
“We expect around 10-11 billion dollars of loss in tourism income this year. Some $5 billion of this is caused by the decrease in tourist numbers and the remaining from the slashes in room prices at around 30 percent. A decrease in income will pave the road to cuts in employment” he said.
Ayık said around a 3 percent drop in the number of tourists visiting the Mediterranean resort of Antalya may be the case this year. The Aegean province of Muğla may face an 8 percent loss, although no loss is expected for Istanbul, he added.
He also noted that the sector achieved double digit growth numbers in the last 25 years, but saw a slowdown this year for the first time in the last three decades, although around 2 million decreases in tourist numbers will not constitute a big problem for the sector.
The point is to maintain a sustainable growth trend in the sector, according to him.
“If Turkey can continue to catch up with the previous trends, the sector can overcome its losses in just one year. It is, however, not likely to grow in the same manner as the sector has reached enormous figures at around 40 million tourists. It is not easy to add around 4 million new tourists to the sector to be able to grow by 10 percent every year...With extraordinary efforts, we were able to reach 10 percent of growth in the sector, but around 3-5 percent of growth is quite feasible now, unless the sector makes big mistakes. We all must keep our country a land of peace. If we can do this, we can attract 1 million or more tourists to our country every year, which means sustainable growth for the sector” he said.
Ayık noted that the public sector has made several contributions to the sector, but they are not enough.
“We especially need loan opportunities with lower rates, some discounts in social security premium payments in winter season and some acceleration attempts to extend the tourism season in the country to 12 months” he added.