Tourism in Turkey is set to suffer a further setback this year after the suicide bomb attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on Tuesday.
Visitor arrivals to the country were already down 10 per cent this year until the first week of June when compared with the same period last year, as a series of bomb blasts and terror attacks in the past year have made tourists reconsider travel plans to the country, according to the consultancy Euromonitor International.
Turkey reported US$35 billion in tourism revenue in 2014, but this figure fell to $12.2bn in the third quarter last year, it said.
Some UAE travel agencies have already started receiving cancellation requests from customers who were booked to transit through Istanbul.
“We have only received cancellations from travellers who were scheduled to arrive in Istanbul this week, so far,” said Albert Dias, the co-founder and chief technology officer at the Sharjah online travel portal Musafir.com.
“Our tourist departures from the UAE to Turkey had dropped by roughly 60 per cent year-on-year in the first half of this year. Our outlook for the remainder of the year also remains weak.” Mr Dias said.
Now travellers are looking at alternatives in the same price range such as Georgia and Armenia, he added.
The UK travel company Thomas Cook reported that revenue from Turkey fell by Â£29 million (Dh143.8m) during the first half of the year when compared with the same period last year.
“Demand for Turkey remains significantly behind last year [for this year’s summer],” it said.
Turkey was its second-most popular destination last year, a Thomas Cook official said.
About 2.5 million visitors from the UK come to Turkey every year, according to the UK foreign office.
Turkey was the world’s sixth-most attractive destination in 2014, recording 36.8 million visitors, according to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies. It was expected to receive 42 million tourists last year.
The EU imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis last year, and this also had an effect on tourist flows to the country. About 4.5 million Russian tourists visited Turkey annually until last year, according to Euromonitor International.
After a suicide bombing killed 32 people in Suruc last July, countries such as Germany and Russia imposed travel restrictions.
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