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Damned If You Don't: Erdogan's Chance to Save Turkey's Tourism Industry

© Sputnik / Sergey Guneev / Go to the mediabankTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Sputnik International
The policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have dealt a serious blow to Turkey's tourism industry as people from both Russia and Europe have become increasingly reluctant to visit the country; however, there may be a way to fix things.

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A recent report by Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism reveals that the number of tourists who visited the country in April has decreased by 28 percent compared to the previous year.

One of the chief factors contributing to this decline was a sharp decline in Russian tourists, with only 31,000 arrivals in April, 2016, 79.2 percent fewer than in April, 2015.

According to Die Welt, this development was to be expected after a Turkish jet shot down a Russian bomber in Syrian airspace last November, which prompted Moscow to retaliate by imposing a host of sanctions related to trade, tourism and investments against Ankara.

However, the number of foreign arrivals from Germany, France, Greece and the US has also drastically decreased as tourists are becoming increasingly reluctant to visit Turkey due to security concerns, according to Die Welt. April also saw 35.4 percent fewer arrivals from Germany year-on-year and 24.4 percent fewer arrivals from the UK.

Ankara may yet attempt to salvage the situation by attracting tourists from Georgia and Ukraine, though in that case local businesses would have to reconsider their pricing policy as tourists from Russia and Germany are considered to be the biggest spenders among those who visit Turkey, the newspaper adds.

As high season in Turkey begins, this situation becomes even more poignant as the decline in tourists becomes more and more noticeable by local businesses. According to the current estimates, the Turkish tourism industry may end up losing from $6 billion to almost $9 billion in revenue if the current negative trend continues.

However, the Turkish government may yet be able to reverse this dangerous trend and to mend relations with Russia.

Andrei Podyelyshev, Russia’s Consul General to Istanbul, made an interesting remark during a meeting in bilateral trade relations, claiming that despite all the problems "we’ll overcome the crisis, we’ll definitely find a solution," according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Podyelyshev also declared that the two countries should be able to reach a mutual understanding, and noted how Russia's President Vladimir Putin recently stated that Moscow expects certain concrete steps from Ankara to be made in resolving the crisis.

Nevertheless, President Erdogan continues to insist that he doesn’t understand what kind of first step is expected from the Turkish leadership, arguing that Turkey is "not a country that is sitting in the defendant's chair." While he repeatedly declares that he wishes to restore relations with Russia as soon as possible, what kind of things he’s willing to do to achieve that remains to be seen.

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