Turkey's foreign tourist arrivals rise 28% y/y in 2017 with revenues up 19% y/y

Turkey's foreign tourist arrivals rise 28% y/y in 2017 with revenues up 19% y/y
By bne IntelliNews February 1, 2018

Turkey’s foreign tourist arrivals figure grew by 28% y/y to 32.4mn in 2017, data from the culture and tourism ministry showed on January 31.

The number of Russian tourists increased to 4.72mn last year from only 0.87mn in 2016 thanks to the resetting of relations between Ankara and Moscow. Russia imposed a Turkey charter flights ban after the downing of a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November 2015 and the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Turkey subsequently shrank by 30% y/y to 25.4mn in 2016. Also taking a toll on arrivals were security concerns following the attempted coup and wave of terrorist attacks in 2016 and Turkey's perceived slide to authoritarianism during which the EU has raised grave concerns about a lack of respect for human rights.

Turkey’s tourism revenues increased by 19% y/y to $26.2bn in 2017, national statistics office TUIK said also on January 31. However, the average expenditure of visitors fell to $681 per capita in 2017 from $705 in 2016.

Turkey very much relies on tourism revenues to finance its current account deficit. The revenues sharply declined to $22.1bn in 2016 from $31.5bn in 2015. Along with the rapprochement with Moscow in 2017, there was a substantial reduction in terrorism.

Turkey’s embattled tourism sector is enjoying an “amazing rebound” with early bookings from German travellers for summer 2018 up 70% y/y, a German tourism industry figure told a meeting of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association (TYD), Hurriyet Daily News reported on January 25.

Travel firm Thomas Cook said on November 22 that summer 2018 bookings for Turkey were very strong.

The country’s tourism sector should see revenues grow to $30bn in 2018, helped by planned new incentives for tour operators and rising visitor numbers, Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus told Reuters in November.

"We are expecting 31.4 million visitors in 2017, and from that, revenue of $26bn. In 2018, this should rise to 37 million to 38 million visitors, generating revenue of $30bn," Kurtulmus said.