Turkey's tourism takes big hit after attacks

Tourism, a key component of the Turkish economy as well as a substantial foreign currency earner, has taken a hit


Turkey's tourism sector has taken a massive hit following a slew of terror attacks in Istanbul and Ankara as well as an attempted coup, reports Associated Press.  

The busy streets of Turkey's favourite tourist destination- Istanbul are now devoid of visitors, reports local media. Tourism made up for almost 12% of Turkey's gross domestic product in 2014, which is higher than the global average of roughly 9%, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. However in recently released figures by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the country saw a significant drop of almost 30% in the number of visits by foreigners in January through November 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

Turkish hotels have cut staff by 40%, some have closed for the winter and others are struggling to pay back loans after a trying year when occupancy rates fell to the lowest in Europe, Reuters reported in December 2016.

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Average hotel occupancy rates in Turkey fell to 50.4% in the first ten months of 2016.

According to figures obtained by the Associated Press, Turkey's tourism sector grew from 10.5 million visitors in 2000 to 36.2 million people in 2015, making it the sixth-most visited destination in the world and earned the country $31.5 billion in 2015.

Turkey has gone through massive unstability in the last year. The most recent terror attack was at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's eve that left 39 dead which included tourists from Belgium, France, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, according to Turkish media. Last year also saw an assault at the Istanbul airport that killed 42 in June and two suicide bombings in the city in 2016 - 10 German tourists were killed in a suicide attack in Istanbul's historic district on January 12, 2016. The failed coup in Turkey in July left more than 200 people dead. 

#Istanbul tourism 26%, lowest in 16 yrs as Nightclub attacker still at large. #Turkey https://t.co/uCiJVvV9AL

— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 6, 2017

News.com.au reports that the latest advice from Smartraveller recommends Australians exercise a high degree of caution, and reconsider the need to travel to the major cities of Ankara and Istanbul due to ongoing threats of terrorist attacks. With similar warnings from the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the US Department of State.

The places included in the list of warnings are tourists sites in and around Izmir, Antalya, Istanbul, Ankara and Adana.

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