Overall, June 2017 has been a successful month for the Turkish tourism industry that is slowly bouncing back after two years of devastating results for the country’s 6th largest industry. Much of the hype and attention was focused on Russian tourists, after the Russian consulate general in Antalya, predicted that 3 million of them will visit the region in 2017.
Russians have always been an essential nationality in the tourism industry of Turkey, often preferring to holiday on the Mediterranean coast, yet figures took a nosedive following a breakdown in diplomatic relationships between the two countries. The consulate also reported that to date, Russians were responsible for 8,000 foreign property purchases and more than 2 billion USD in investments.
Possibly capitalising on this announcement, on June 27th, the Sun Express airline that jointly belongs to Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, made their first flight between Antalya and Moscow. This is Sun Express’s first involvement in the Russian market and takes their flights from Antalya airport to other destinations to a staggering 342 a week.
Meanwhile, in the north-west of the country, TUROB, the Hoteliers Association of Turkey, said that hotel occupancy rates soared to 64.4% in May, a year-on-year increase of 15.7%, indicating that the city’s tourism industry was bouncing back. However, he also added that the daily average rate of a room had dropped a staggering 25% to an average of 76 euros a day, so while business is increasing, many hoteliers see no notable increase in revenue.
Continuing their effort to diversify the typical tourist nationalities, Turkey struck a deal with Ukraine for passport-free travel between the two countries, and it came into effect on June the 1st. Ukraine citizens coming into Turkey, need now to only show the ID cards for a maximum 90 days stay in the country. Ukraine citizens accounted for 1 million visitors in 2016, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, predicts the recent deal will see that amount increase by 30% for 2017.
Meanwhile many professionals within the Turkish tourism industry, are eagerly awaiting the return of booking.com, after an announcement by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, that a meeting on June the 22nd will discuss ways and methods for them to resume operations.
Currently, anyone trying to use booking.com from within Turkey, without a VPN, is shown the message “Unfortunately, it is only possible for our customers in Turkey to book international properties with us right now. We are working on resolving the issues that have prevented us from offering you our full range of services. We apologise for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued custom with Booking.com.”
The meeting took place after an appeal against the ban was rejected by Turkish courts. As of yet, there is no confirmation from either side as to whether activities will resume, however, if booking.com fulfils certain tax and licence requirements, they are expected to be able to operate as normal.
The global travel agency was blocked in Turkey, after a lawsuit by TURSAB (Association of Travel Agents) claimed unfair practise. Many hotels in central Anatolia report that they have suffered from the ban as they do not have the support or connections with international travel agencies and companies.
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