Turkey’s tourism receipts nearly tripled, but many Turks are staying home

Tourists visit the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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  • Overseas visitor numbers rebound to near pre-pandemic levels
  • Tourism revenue is essential to the Turkish economy
  • The fall of the pound makes Turkey a more attractive destination

ISTANBUL, July 29 (Reuters) – Turkey’s tourism receipts almost tripled in the second quarter, while the number of foreign visitors in the first half jumped near 2019 levels, data showed on Friday, recovering from a crisis caused by the coronavirus and bringing in much-needed foreign currency.

The rebound, following the lifting of strict restrictions at the height of the pandemic, was helped by the fall of the lira, which lost 44% against the dollar last year and 27% so far in 2022. making Turkey cheaper for foreign tourists.

However, the economic woes fueling the lira’s fall have in turn left domestic tourism lagging behind, according to data and interviews, with nearly 80% annual inflation eating away at the disposable income of Turks.

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Tourism revenue jumped 190% from a year earlier to $8.72 billion in the second quarter, according to data from the statistics institute.

Media quoted Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy as saying on Thursday that Turkey was aiming for $37 billion in tourism revenue and attracting 47 million tourists this year, raising its targets by $35 billion and 45 million.

In 2021, tourism revenues doubled to almost $25 billion, recovering from the worst impact of COVID-19, but remained well below the $34.5 billion recorded in 2019.

Revenue from tourism is vital to Turkey’s economy, with net central bank foreign exchange reserves nearing a 20-year low and President Tayyip Erdogan’s economic plan targeting a current account surplus.

In June, the number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey jumped 145% from a year earlier to 5.02 million, with 16.37 million in the first half, up 186% from a year ago. a year, the tourism ministry said.

COSTS MITIGATE DOMESTIC TOURISM

The data indicates a more moderate trend among domestic tourists.

Overnight domestic tourist trips rose just 6.1% to 8.8 million in the first quarter as inflation doubled travel costs, official data showed last week. Last year, the number of such trips jumped 23.2%.

In the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris, hotel manager Fahri Tan said rising costs were hurting both customers and operators, whose costs jumped 150-200%.

“Domestic tourists have become unable to bear the full burden of holiday expenses due to the sharp increase in transportation and other expenses,” said Tan, manager of Fi Light Solto Boutique Beach Hotel in Selimiye, near Marmaris.

As a result, many Turks try to spend less.

“We would normally stay in a hotel, but due to high prices we rented a house from Airbnb,” said marketing expert Ozge Ozkan.

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Reporting by Canan Sevgili, Ceyda Caglayan, Berna Suleymanoglu and Azra Ceylan; Written by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Ali Kucukgocmen and Tomasz Janowski

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