Turkey’s tourism industry faces problems. Now is time for a re-think, argues fvw’s Klaus Hildebrandt.
Turkey is an enormous tourism success story. But business has been weak for several months. The attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, an increasingly arrogant President Erdogan and finally the shooting-down of the Russian fighter jet are giving holidaymakers from Germany and several neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands an uncomfortable feeling.
Objectively speaking, nothing has changed. For holidaymakers, Turkey is a safe destination, the hotel sector sets high standards and the hospitality is legendary. But the country has an image problem. Turkish tourist chiefs know this. That’s why more active marketing by the tourism ministry was demanded at the recent conference of the hoteliers association Aktob. Moreover, it was courageous just how openly the restrictions on press freedom were criticised by speakers.
But this situation isn’t only the result of politics, the refugee flows and the war in Syria. For years, tourism managers, above all Vural Öger, have criticised the construction boom on the Turkish Riviera and demanded a masterplan. But one gigantic five-star resort with all-inclusive and pool landscapes is still opened after another. For families and best agers the product is just right but it’s not very exciting for younger visitors.
Hopes always laid with Russia but this summer the market collapsed. If Turkey and Russia cannot soon solve their dispute, then many hotels will have massive problems in 2016. Guests from Western Europe cannot fill so many beds, even at dumping prices.
But perhaps this shock is necessary before investors and local mayors start to think again.