Turkey feels pressure as attacks scare off tourists

Ambitious targets may have to be revised downward
Turkey had been aiming for $50 billion in annual tourism revenues by 2023, up from the current figure of $34 billion, but continuing violence in and around the country may crush such hopes.
The world’s sixth most popular destination country, which usually sees 40 million tourists a year, Turkey is now facing multiple security challenges from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the far left and Kurdish militants.
The January 11 attack against tourists in the heart of one of the world’s great destinations, Istanbul, beside the famous Obelisk of Theodosius, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, killed at least 11 and injured 15. The suicide bomber was an IS militant named Nabil Fadli, aged 28, born in Saudi Arabia of Syrian origin.
Ten of the victims were Germans. Travel advice coming from countries like Denmark and Germany is warning against visiting any tourist sites in Istanbul. Istanbul is the world’s fifth most visited destination, with more than 12 million tourists in 2015.
Three weeks ago an explosion at the city’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport killed one and wounded another. The Kurdish militant group TAK claimed responsibility for that attack. Last year a female suicide bomber killed herself and a police officer.
Turkey is accelerating its efforts against IS and tracking IS suspects. Its downing of a Russian warplane in November has seriously impacted Russo-Turkish relations and abruptly reduced the vital supply of Russian tourists.
Hoteliers in Istanbul say that the violence in the country is creating deep anxiety among tourists, many of whom are now cancelling their stays. Hotels are seeing double-digit declines in guest numbers. There are as many as 7,000 hotels in the Sultanahmet area alone, where last week’s attack occurred. “2016 might be again a lost year for our tourism industry,” says one hotelier.
bne Intellinews


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