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Summertime Sadness: Turkey's Tourism Crisis Shows No Sign of Abating

© Sputnik / Vladimir Vyatkin / Go to the mediabankRussian tourists in Antalya
Russian tourists in Antalya - Sputnik International
Turkey's tourism industry continues to face harsh consequences of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and a chill in Russian-Turkish ties, with tradesman complaining about the worst season in 30 years, according to RT.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Sputnik International
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Turkey's once-thriving marketplaces have been left resembling ghost towns, with the tourism crisis riding roughshod over not only seaside resorts, but also Istanbul; this former Mecca of tourism was the worst affected by the aftermath of the bomb blasts, RT reported.

Even though the decline in revenues in Turkey's tourist sector will ebb by about a quarter by the year-end, local hotels and restaurants, including those in Istanbul, remain empty.

In 2015, vacationers from Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom accounted for 15.5 percent, 10 percent and 7 percent of Turkey's overall number of tourists, respectively, according to official statistics.

However, Russians remain resentful following Ankara's downing of a Russian warplane in November, 2015 over neighboring northern Syria, and Moscow is still waiting for an official apology before it will consider lifting punitive sanctions restricting charter flights. As for the flow of tourists from Europe, it began to fall immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.

This trend further intensified after 11 German tourists were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul on January 12, 2016; more attacks followed in March and in June.

Representatives of German travel agencies say that after the January bombing, even some cruise ships changed their routes, setting sail for Greek ports instead of Turkish ones.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists from Russia, Germany and the UK fell, by 80 percent, 35 percent and 24 percent, respectively. In addition, the recent terrorist attacks reduced the flow of tourists from Greece, Italy and Japan, by 27 percent, 55 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet quoted traders and shopkeepers as saying that sales had already fallen by 90 percent after the ban of charter flights from Russia and restrictions on the import of Turkish goods.

Experts say that that this year will see about one million German holidaymakers visiting Spain, Italy or Greece rather than Turkey. Additionally, so-called home tourism has gathered strength both in Germany and Russia due to safety concerns.

As for the Russian tourists, they also plan to travel to Greece, Bulgaria, Israel, Spain and Vietnam.

After the June 7, 2016 terrorist attack in Istanbul, the British Foreign Office and the US State Department advised their citizens against visiting Turkey.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Turkey's tourist sector accounts for at least 4.7 percent of its GDP, while indirect revenues from the country's tourism activity stand at about 12 percent of its GDP.

The political instability in Turkey may finally lead to the country's economic collapse, with the credit insurance company Euler Hermes expecting about 15,000 bankruptcies of Turkish companies in the next few months, a 8-percent increase compared to 2015.

Russian tourists in Antalya - Sputnik International
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Relations between Turkey and Russia deteriorated in November 2015, when Ankara shot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft carrying out anti-terrorist operations in Syria.

Despite Ankara's claims that the plane had violated Turkish airspace, both Russian and Syrian military officials have confirmed that the plane never left the skies of Syria.

Russia suspended its visa-free regime with Turkey and imposed an array of restrictive economic measures on Ankara in response to the downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber.

In late January, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was eager to normalize relations with Moscow.

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