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Number of Tourists in Turkey Drastically Dropped in 2015

The number of tourists coming to Turkey has dropped in 2015, said Culture and Tourism Minister Yalcin Topcu on Thursday to AA Oficial news agency of Turkey.

“There was a 3.8 percent decrease in foreign visitors during the first seven months of this year, compared with the same period of the previous year,” the minister told Anadolu Agency.

Topcu said the number of tourists arriving in the first seven months of the year was 27,375.256, and tourism income was $12.6 billion.

“These losses are not irreversible. The government has some incentives and improvements to help pare these [losses],” said Topcu. The minister did not provide further details.

According to the Tourism Ministry, foreign arrivals were down in June. The ministry’s report said that the number of foreigners arriving in Turkey in June 2015 was 4,123,109, a 4.89 percent decrease from the same month in the previous year.

According to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), as of July 31 of this year, tourism revenue during the second quarter (Q2) decreased by 13.8 percent when compared with 2014; the number of incoming foreign guests dropped by just over 2 percent. The average expenditure per person/per holiday stands currently at $719 which, if correct at the end of Q4 as well, would see a rather dramatic decline from $828 in 2014.

The sector has already lost almost half-a-million Russian tourists this year due to the economic problems in Russia. This situation is, however, not peculiar to Turkey, as the same trend is seen in many other countries which are usually hot destinations for Russian tourists.

The number of foreign visitors has been falling across all provinces, except the city of Istanbul, which has become the fifth most visited city in the world with 12.56 million projected visitors in 2015, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index.

The main problem with the Turkish tourism sector seems to be a decrease in the number of European tourists. According to data from the Tourism Ministry, the number of foreign tourists from France decreased by 22.3 percent while the number from Italy decreased by 19.5 percent in the first half of the year compared to the previous year. Although a dramatic drop was not seen in the number of British tourists visiting the country in the first half of the year, the rising security concerns about Turkey will especially hit the tourism traffic from Britain, according to tourism players.

“There is a perception in some countries as if a deadly war has erupted in Turkey. We need to fix this perception and explain ourselves adequately,” said another leading tourism representative.

By Shiva Parizad
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