Turkey’s Failed Syria Policy Collapses Tourist Industry, 1,300 Hotels Go On Sale

Istanbul's central Taksim Square sits vacant after police clash with protesters. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Istanbul’s central Taksim Square sits vacant after police clash with protesters. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

With over 400 hotels for sale in the tourist capital Antalya, Turkey’s tourist industry has descended into one of its worst crises in history after the number of Russian tourists visiting the country dwindled and increasing terrorist attacks left the country’s security weakened, the Turkish Zaman newspaper reported.

Turkey is facing a shortfall of nearly 4.5 million Russian tourists this year, causing Turkey’s tourism industry to miss out on some $4.5 billion in lost revenues, according to Aegean Touristic Enterprises and Lodging Association (ETHICS) Chairman Mehmet Isler, as quoted by the newspaper.

European tourists, mainly from Germany, have changed their preferences to Greek resorts, he added, citing the “propaganda” of the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey as covered by the European media as the reason for this trend.

A large number of hotels and companies operating in the tourist sector face mounting debt problems, with the fallout from the Russian Su-24 incident driving hotel owners to sell their property, real estate agent Ismail Ozer said, according to the report.

Relations between Ankara and Moscow deteriorated after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 jet, which was deployed in an anti-terrorist operation in Syria, over an alleged violation of Turkish airspace on November 24. Moscow refuted the claims of an airspace violation and imposed anti-Turkish economic measures, which included a ban on the sale of Turkish tour-packages.

In early January, an explosion occurred on a central square in Istanbul’s historical city center. At least 10 German tourists were killed, while 17 people were injured. In October 2015, twin blasts rocked Turkey’s capital Ankara, killing over 100 people and injuring over 400. The attack has been linked to Islamist terrorist groups.

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