Ukraine crisis weighs on Turkish tourism industry


ISTANBUL

The current crisis between Ukraine and Russia poses risks to Turkey’s important tourism industry as travelers from these countries cancel their bookings.

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However, industry players hope that if the tension eases in March or April, tourist activity may not be significantly affected during the summer season with last-minute bookings from Russian and Ukrainian holidaymakers.

Russian and Ukrainian tourists are important sources of income for hoteliers, especially in resorts along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, such as Alanya, Belek and Kemer.

Last year, 4.7 million Russians and almost 2 million Ukrainians visited Turkey, while the total number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country amounted to 24.7 million people, in up more than 94% from 2020. Russians and Ukrainians accounted for 19% and 8.3% of all foreign visitors. , respectively in 2021.

In January this year, Turkey received 134,000 Russians and 37,000 Ukrainians.

“Reservations [from Ukraine and Russia] slowed down significantly due to the tension,” said Burhan Sili, Chairman of the Association of Tourist Hoteliers of Alanya (ALTİD).

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Sili, however, noted that Russians tend to make last-minute reservations and that if the situation calms down, the influx of tourists from this region could quickly pick up.

Bookings from Russia were halved as of February 22, said Özgen Uysal, head of the Western Mediterranean branch of the Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB).

Still, echoing Sili, Uysal is optimistic that tourism activity could pick up if the tension eases in the coming period.

Rıza Perçin from TÜRSAB warned that without Russians and Ukrainians, problems for local businesses, which have already suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, will only exacerbate.

Cappadocia is also feeling the pinch of Ukrainian-Russian tension. The tourist hotspot has seen an increase in visitors from both countries, especially after charter flights began from Ukraine two years ago.

“Charter flights have been cancelled. Last winter, we hosted 30,000 Russians and Ukrainians. It seems that we have already lost Russian and Ukrainian tourists this winter,” said Teyfik Ölmez, president of the Cappadocia Association of Hoteliers and Tour Operators (KAPTİD).

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