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    A tourist couple checks a map, near the Byzantine-era monument of Hagia Sophia, at Sultanahmet square in Istanbul,Turkey January 14, 2016

    Ex-Minister: Turkey's Ruined Relations With Neighbors Killing Off Tourism

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    Turkey's marred relations with virtually all of its regional neighbors, including Russia, Iran and Syria, are having a negative impact on tourism development in the country, a former Turkish minister of culture and tourism said Tuesday.

    ANKARA (Sputnik) — Relations between Ankara and Moscow deteriorated after a Turkish fighter downed a Russian aircraft over Syria on November 24. Following the incident, Russia imposed a set of restrictive measures, which included a ban on the sale of tour packages to Turkey.

    "Tourism plays an extremely important role in our country <…> But at the moment there are tensions within Turkey, relations with Syria are very bad, because of this our relations with Russia and Iran have also been marred <…> Today we have problems with all of our neighbors. Foreign tourists will not come to such a country," Ertugrul Gunay told RIA Novosti.

    He added that the terrorist attacks in Suruc, Istanbul, Ankara had lowered the country's standing in foreign tourists' eyes.

    According to data from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ankara lost some 20 percent of Russian tourists and almost 10 percent of holidaymakers from Europe in 2015 compared to 2014. According to tourism and culture department of southwestern Turkish province of Antalya, the number of Russian tourists visiting the Turkish resort dropped 5.3 times in January, compared to the same period in 2015.

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