"Our organization is trying to establish cooperation in the tourism sector with Iran, which is ranked seventh among tourist source countries for Turkey, to at least partially compensate for the decline [in tourist numbers from Russia and Europe]," Timur Bayindir told RIA Novosti.
According to Bayindir, the move is part of a strategy to reduce the impact on Turkey tourism industry of drops in tourist numbers from its previously two largest sources of visitors — Germany and Russia — caused by a recent terrorist attack in Istanbul in which German tourists were killed and by soured bilateral relations, respectively.
"Iran is an important market for us. The Iranians spend more money than any other nation when they travel on various purchases," Bayindir said.
According to the TUROB president, Turkey attracted 1.8 million tourists from Iran in 2014.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow deteriorated after a Turkish F-16 fighter downed a Russian Su-24 jet, which was deployed in an anti-terrorist operation in Syria, over an alleged violation of Turkish airspace on November 24. Moscow said the plane never crossed into Turkish airspace and introduced economic measures against Ankara, including a ban on the sale of tours to Turkey, in response to the downing of the Russian aircraft.