ANKARA: Turkey tourism revenues fell almost 30 percent in 2016, the country’s statistics office said Tuesday, after visitors stayed away following multiple terror attacks and a failed coup.
In 2016 income from tourism fell by 29.7 percent compared to the previous year, falling to $22.1 billion (19.7 billion euros), the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK) said on its website.
The country has been hit by a spate of attacks blamed on Islamic extremists and Kurdish militants while tourists were further spooked by the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the July 15 failed coup and the subsequent crackdown.
For the whole of last year, over 31 million visitors came to Turkey, TUIK said, compared to nearly 42 million in 2015.
The statistics include Turkish residents who live abroad.
Tourism is a key economic sector in Turkey, accounting for some five percent of GDP, and the slowdown in the sector has contributed to a deterioration in growth.
The economy in the third quarter contracted for the first time year-on-year since 2009, shrinking 1.8 percent.
Tourists have been put off in particular by attacks in locations frequented by foreign visitors blamed on jihadists.
In June 2016, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities pointing the finger at Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
And just 75 minutes into 2017, an IS-linked militant killed 39 people in an elite nightclub in Istanbul as New Year celebrations were in full swing.
But Turkish officials are still hoping for better times in 2017, pinning expectations on an upsurge in tourism from key market Russia after a deal to normalise ties.
In August, visitor numbers to Turkey from Russia fell 83.63 percent compared with the same month in 2015.
For the whole of 2016, Turkey saw foreign visitor arrivals drop by 30 percent, the tourism ministry said.
“God willing, 2017 will be better than 2016, and 2018 will be better than 2017,” said Tourism Minister Nabi Avci, quoted by the state Anadolu agency.
“Turkey is a perfect destination, everyone should absolutely see it,” UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary General Taleb Rifai said.
“And it’s important for this second reason, travelling to Turkey is the best response to give to terrorism,” he added.