Turkey: Summer without Russian tourists


Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Most tourists come from Russia. Last year it was about 4.7 million. Germany is in second place with about 3 million. In third place is Ukraine. About 2 million Ukrainians went on holiday to Turkey last year.

In view of this summer season, the concerns of the tourism industry are great. “Hotels are severely affected by the war,” Firak Solak, owner of a travel agency in Antalya, told DW. “Normally we should be full by July and August. “But there are no bookings from Russia.” This is mainly due to Western sanctions against Moscow. Many Russian airlines have leased their planes to Western companies. When such an aircraft lands abroad, it may be seized.

Tourists will pay with “Mir” or cash

“The biggest problem is the flights,” agrees Murat Yalcin Yalcinkaya, head of the Antalya Tour Guides Association. “Efforts are being made to find a solution to the problem.” Until last year, Russian tourists traveled by Russian air to Turkish tourist destinations and returned home after the end of their vacation in the same way. Now things may be a little different, says Dennis Ugur, CEO of Bentour, a travel company in Turkey. The Turkish government plans to transport Russian tourists to Turkey and then back to Russia by Turkish aircraft to prevent the worst for Turkish tourism.

In addition, the question remains how Russian tourists will pay in Turkey, as credit card companies such as Mastercard and Visa have withdrawn from the Russian market. As a result, cards issued in Russia can no longer be used abroad. However, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, has announced that “Mir” debit cards will continue to operate in Turkey and some other countries. And from what everything shows the information is correct. So tourists from Russia can pay in Turkey either with cash or with “Mir” cards.

There is no antidote to the dramatic decline in tourists

Despite Turkish efforts, almost 50% fewer tourists came to Turkey from Russia in March than last year, according to Turkish expert Sabed Kizgin. Bentour CEO Denis Ugur estimates that the Turkish tourism industry expects 1.5 to 1.7 million Russian tourists this year, about a third of last year’s total of 4.7 million. A significant drop is also expected for Ukrainian tourists, whose number is expected to shrink from 2 million in 2021 to just 100,000 in the summer.

The CEO of Bentour expects about 40% more Germans, 50% more British and 60% more Polish tourists in Turkey this year. But tourists may also come to Turkey from countries to which the Turks do not necessarily bet. Travel safety expert Samed Kizgin points out that in March this year, most tourists, or about 13%, came from Iran, which until recently was in fifth place in the ranking of tourist countries. Despite the increase in tourists from other foreign countries and the efforts of Ankara and the Turkish tourism industry, none of the experts believe that Turkey will be able to compensate for the dramatic decrease in Russian and Ukrainian tourists this summer. This is the top problem of 2022 for the Turkish tourism industry.

Source: DW – Stefanos Georgakopoulos / Marco Miller

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