Steep drop in Middle Eastern tourists to Turkey

There has been a sharp decline in the number of Arab tourists visiting Turkey, with flight reservations down an estimated 16 per cent in early 2017.

The nightclub shooting in which 39 people were killed, the latest of several Daesh-linked attacks on the country, has prompted a number of countries to issue travelling warnings to their citizens.

On Monday, the UAE warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey in the wake of the New Year’s Day attack.

Analysts predict 2017 to be worse than 2016 for Turkey’s tourism industry. Data from ForwardKeys travel analyst, which analyses 16 million flight-reservation transactions a day, shows that arrivals to Turkey by air during the past year fell by 21 per cent but the decline was only six per cent for flights originating from the Middle East.

But the picture is looking different when it comes to future bookings to Istanbul and Turkey over the first three months of 2017, commented Olivier Jager, chief executive of travel intelligence firm ForwardKeys.

This year, trips from the Middle East are 18 per cent lower for Istanbul and 16 per cent lower for Turkey as a whole than they were last year. The global average is down by 22 per cent. Speaking to Arab News he said: “We know that terrorist attacks deter tourists, but tourism recovers over time. However, repeated attacks push back a possible recovery period.”

“Unfortunately for Turkey, the New Year’s Eve nightclub attack is likely to continue to fuel concerns about the safety of the destination.”

Jager cautioned that the outlook may not be as negative as the figures suggest, as there “is a general trend towards booking later and particularly so after a terrorist incident”.

“It might take a week or so before we are able to fully size the real impact of this attack on inbound travel to Turkey,” he said.