In Turkey, they “counted” only 1.5 good seasons, starting in 2016 “after the aviation crisis with Russia” (this is when the Turks shot down the Russian Su-24 in Syria and received an embargo on Russian tourism until August 2016), and urged to pay attention to the undeserved forgotten European markets. Burak Tonbul, chairman of Touristica and Diana Travel, made this statement, urging Turkey to “turn the positive atmosphere it creates in diplomacy into an opportunity. “We always need the European market. We can bring back the markets that we neglected during the periods when the main flow of tourists came from Russia and Ukraine,” he said.
Further, Mr. Tonbul said that all this time tourism professionals “could not raise their heads” due to various crises. “After the aviation crisis with Russia and the subsequent coup attempt, half of 2019 has been good. But then the pandemic came. We thought we would have a good season in 2022 based on early bookings. And here comes another major shock, and we are faced with a problem much deeper and more unknown than those we have faced before,” he said. The Turkish expert added that now Turkey and its tourism industry is going through a “stage of disappointment from this unpleasant surprise.”
“This year we expected to be able to alleviate the financial difficulties caused by the crisis that we have been experiencing since 2016. But it is very difficult for us to realize these plans. Because the markets of Russia and Ukraine in our coastal regions account for at least 40%. When Antalya received 14 million tourists, 6 million of them were from Russia and Ukraine. There is no way to make up for this loss with another market or markets in such a limited amount of time,” he said. Moreover, “how many people will come from Russia” this year, the expert cannot predict.
And then Mr. Tonbul calls to look at Europe. “Travel professionals are focusing on the European and British markets to close the gap where there is a strong demand for Turkey. The UK market has usually been our third largest market. Last year, the UK was closed to us – and this is a plus, because due to the impossibility to come to Turkey last year, there is now a very serious demand from England for Turkey,” he said. The Turkish expert also claims that the country's tourism industry “ignored such markets as France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, Belgium and the Netherlands. “We have previously lost them for various reasons, or the number of tourists from there has decreased significantly, partly due to the intense requests of our Russian and Ukrainian guests,” he said and called for “reviving” these markets.
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