Foreign Tourists Stay Away From Turkey in Record Numbers

  • Tourist arrivals fell 28 percent in April from a year earlier
  • Tourism hit by disputes with Russia, slew of bomb attacks

Turkey Tourism: Arrivals Drop 28% in April

Turkey experienced its biggest drop in foreign-tourist arrivals on record last month, as tensions with Russia and a series of deadly bombings kept visitors away from the country’s beaches.

The number of arrivals dropped for a ninth consecutive month, the longest streak of year-on-year declines in statistics that span a decade. The number of visitor fell by a record 28 percent to 1.75 million in April, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tourism accounts for 6.2 percent of Turkey’s economic output, according to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, and 8 percent of employment -- not counting its impact on other industries. The decline in tourism revenue could deepen a crisis that has already forced hundreds of resorts on Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to scrap plans to hire seasonal workers.

“As we move from low to high season in tourism, the deterioration in tourism statistics gets more and more significant,” Deniz Cicek, an economist at Finansbank AS, wrote in an e-mailed note. While the data implies a $6 billion decline in net tourism revenue for the year, April’s shock suggests the loss “may be much larger.”

The lira extended its decline after the release, trading 0.4 percent lower to 2.9470 per dollar as of 3:45 p.m. in Istanbul. The yield on the nation’s 10-year government debt rose 4 basis points to 9.96 percent.

The fall in tourist arrivals was led by a 79 percent decline in number of Russian visitors, who’ve stayed away after a diplomatic fallout between the two countries that began after the Turkish military shot down a Russian warplane that strayed into its airspace in November.

Militant attacks and political turmoil have clobbered economies in countries across the Middle East, including in Egypt and Tunisia. In Turkey, security concerns have also arisen since July amid a resurgence in the decades-old war with Kurdish groups, and the spillover from Syria’s civil war next door.

Egypt, whose tourism industry is already suffering from five years of political turmoil, saw tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2016 fall by 40 percent from a year earlier as Russia, the U.K. and Germany imposed a travel ban following the October downing of an aircraft over Sinai.

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