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Strong revival in Turkey’s tourist numbers

A revival in tourism is taking place as Russians return to Turkish beaches and German bookings are up 70%.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Turkey grew by as much as 28% to 32.4 million in 2017, the country’s culture and tourism ministry says.

The decisive factor is the number of Russian tourists, rising to 4.72 million from only 0.87 million in 2016 thanks to the resetting of relations between Ankara and Moscow.

Russia imposed a charter-flight ban on Turkey after the downing of a Russian military jet near the Syrian border in November 2015 and the number of arrivals in Turkey subsequently shrank by 30% to 25.4 million in 2016.

Also taking a toll on arrivals were security concerns following the attempted coup, a wave of terrorist attacks in 2016 and Turkey’s perceived slide into authoritarianism in which the EU has raised concerns over a lack of respect for human rights, bne IntelliNews reports.

Yet visiting Russians helped Turkey’s tourism revenues increase by 19% to $26.2 billion in 2017. However, visitors’ average expenditure fell to $681 per capita in 2017 from $705 in 2016.

Turkey relies on tourism revenues to finance its current account deficit. The total tourism revenues are still some way off the $31.5 billion that was raked in during 2015.

Looking up
But with the return of the Russians to Turkish resorts, and returning interest in Turkey among western European tourists, things are looking up.

Early bookings from Germans for summer 2018 are up 70%, while the tour operator Thomas Cook and accommodation distributor Hotelbeds Group said in November that summer bookings for Turkey were very strong.

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