Turkey has encountered many obstacles in the tourism sector as a result of ongoing terrorist attacks and political unrest that has plagued the region since prehistoric times. The aforementioned activities have resulted in the loss of market opportunities, especially in the tourism sector. As in the case of Turkey, nations characterized by conflicts and political turmoil usually perform poorly in the tourism market. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan released a statement in February 2017 advising all Turkish people not to fly abroad for fun but to stay in the country for safety reasons. The President’s statement came at a time when the tourism sector of Turkey was facing the biggest fall ever recorded in decades, in international inbound tourists (Flanagan, 2017). So exactly how serious is this case of turkey’s tourism sector and what are some of the prospects that lie forth? What economic reviewers have reported however is the effect of the ever-growing security concerns caused by the terrorists especially in the Middle East and the political instabilities which have resulted from to various internal and external factors.
In the year 2015, the mysteries began which would later tarnish the country’s tourism and security as well. It is believed that the fight between the government of Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party was the basement of the unrest which the country experienced for some time. However, the emergence and interference by the Islamic State (IS) are viewed just as an increase in conflicts in the already unstable country (Morris, 20170. Between the year 2015 and 2016, there were six cases reported of major bomb attacks on the people of Turkey, and almost 200 people lost their lives in the attack (Flanagan, 2017; Morris, 2017). On the other hand, more than 700 people have also lost their lives in the war between the Turkish government and the Kurdish terrorist groups, an issue which has rendered the government of Turkey very unstable and the country generally polarized. All the above coupled with the downing of the Russian jet between the Turkey-Syria borders (which claimed many properties on the Turkey side) have led to a great mess to the tourism sector of the country and a general decline in the economic stability. For instance, due to the downing of the jet, the country’s economic ties with Russia were compromised greatly.
Turkey; effects of terrorism on Tourism sector
The terrorist activities in Turkey is a major setback to the economic progress, the act scares away the tourists who contribute immensely to the growth of the Turkey’s economy. The threats are usually experienced in the airplane, public gatherings and even in the recreational areas. Additionally, the Turkey’s government lacks the appropriate measures to curb the act of terrorism, this leads to the deterioration of the tourism activities in most parts of the country, a situation that leads to the loss of the country’s income. The terrorist activities in Turkey are due to the historical feuds that existed in the ancient times, it is also due to the current conflicts with the neighboring countries. The terrorist activities are characterized by mass bombings and shootings that result in the death of many people. When a country is faced with consistent acts of terrorism as in the case of Turkey, different countries usually put the travel bans and warns their nationals from going to such countries, this greatly affects the country’s economy especially the tourism sector.
According to Flanagan (2017) in 2014, Turkey received 37 million visitors both regionally and internationally. Until then, Turkey was the 6th most visited nation worldwide after countries like Italy, China, Spain, USA, and France. Similarly, in the same year, it received the highest revenue from tourism ever. Turkey got close to $34.3 billion, an amount which translated to 4.3% of her GDP. Russians and Germans made the biggest portion of the Turkey’s international inbound tourists (Flanagan, 2017). Based on the official government reports, out of the 36.8 million visitors, Turkey received in 2014, 4.4 million were from Germany while 5.2 million were Russians. In the last decade, Turkey as also experienced a rise in visitors from the Gulf as well as the Mashriq regions. In fact, over a decade, visitors from these regions rose from barely a million to 3.3 million. The Arab tourists are known to be high spenders than the European or even the Russian tourists (Flanagan, 2017). An increase in the Arab tourists from one million to 3.3 million was an economic milestone for Turkey’s tourism revenue. However, it is not surprising that even before Turkey brought down the Russian jet, the economic ties between the two countries had started deteriorating. A major bottleneck to the prosperity of the Turkey’s tourism is, therefore, the terrorism both within its borders and in the neighboring nations like Syria. In 2015, many Russian tourists had started looking for alternative destinations while others opted to stay home during the holidays. Turkey was not the choice of destination.
Turkey suffers due to Geopolitical Fallout (Political Instability)
In the first half of 2015, the number of Russian tourists destined to Turkey dropped by nearly half a million in comparison to the same period in the earlier years. The dropped was recorded only after an economic sanction was imposed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin on Turkey (Petroff, 2017). The sanction included a ban on any sales including the sale of charter holidays for the Russian people to Turkey. Antalya which is the most preferred destination for most Russian tourists experienced a drop by 81% of flight and hotel bookings during that period (Petroff, 2017). In almost an equal measure, an increase in reservation cancellation by the German tourists was recorded at 41%.
Turkey has several domestic challenges besides terrorism which negatively impact on the tourism sector. The polarized armed terrorists in Turkey (Kurdish Terrorists) are a threat to the Turkish government (Petroff, 2017; Morris, 2017). In most cases, the terrorist activities interfere with the government operations especially in the security sector, a situation that hinders the tourist’s confidence when visiting the country. Although Turkey appears to be fighting the IS in Syria, many questions are still unanswered about how competent the country can manage to fight radicalized terrorist in another country yet it is the similar unresolved problem it has back home. The President of Turkey has however reinstated that the fight between the Armed Turkish Military and the terrorists (Kurdish terrorists) both in Syria and in Turkey will not end any soon (Petroff, 2017). Such statements when the Heads of States make, send chills down many people including the tourists and the result is that there will be a considerable decline in tourists visiting those countries for holidays or any other business.
It is evident that Turkey has suffered a major blow to its tourism sector because of political unrests and terrorism influence. Although the President of Turkey, Erdogan promises his country that there would be no bumps in the tourism roads in future, the threat is still strong for as long as the war against IS and the Kurds are not ended. Turkey has several domestic challenges besides terrorism which negatively impact on the tourism sector. The polarized armed terrorists in Turkey (Kurdish Terrorists) are a threat to the Turkish government. A major bottleneck to the prosperity of the Turkey’s tourism is, therefore, the terrorism both within its borders and in the neighboring nations like Syria. In 2015, many Russian tourists had started looking for alternative destinations while others opted to stay home during the holidays. Turkey was not the choice of destination. The nations characterized by wars and political instability usually records low performance in the tourism sector as in the case of Turkey.
Flanagan, B. (2017). Mideast tourism to Turkey down after string of terror attacks. Arab News: Business & Economy.
Morris, H. (2017). Is Turkey safe for tourists and van I cancel my holiday? The Telegraph
Petroff, A. (2017). Turkey faces tourist exodus after terror attacks. CNN Digital News.