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Published on : Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The first plane in months carrying Russian tourists to Turkey arrived in the southern beach resort of Antalya. The first convoy of Russian tourists in eight months were treated to champagne, flowers, and upbeat music!
Turkey experienced a tough year owing to the terror attacks, the refugee crisis and diplomatic tensions. Posing threat to stability and prosperity, the tourism sector also faced major blow during this year.
What otherwise is a typically high tourist season in Turkey, marked scores of empty rooms overlooking the famed turquoise waters. Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower and Grand Bazaar were also devoid of foreign Western tourists and the hotels, restaurants, shops were forced to slash prices.
Beginning last November, there was a near-total collapse of Russian tourism in Turkey as Moscow slapped economic sanctions and a travel ban on Turkey. This happened following the downing of a Russian warplane along the border with Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month sent an apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin which he had been demanding for long. Putin authorized the gradual easing of the sanctions and lifted the devastating travel ban that caused Russian tourism in Turkey to collapse by more than 90% by some estimates.
In the first five months of 2016, the tourism industry Turkey endured a staggering 23% drop in tourists from all countries. This marked a devastating the downfall in Turkey’s travel sector which otherwise saw a 200% annual tourism growth.
The Russian tourists’ return over the weekend is the first sign of thawing relations between the two nations.
Russia is Turkey’s second largest international tourists’ contributor next to Germany. However, the number of visitors from those countries, along with the United States, the UK and other parts of Europe has plummeted by nearly a quarter during the first half of this year.
Rocked by spillover violence from neighbouring Syria, Turkey is trying its best to fight the growing perception that it’s no longer safe.