Published On: Wed, Jul 29th, 2015

Turkish tourism sector concerned violence may spook tourists

tttANKARA, Turkey – An escalation of violence in Turkey could result in mass hotel reservation cancelations from spooked tourists, Turkey Hotel Operators’ Federation (TÜROFED) Chairman Osman Ayık told the media on Monday.

“At the moment we haven’t been seeing any reservations being canceled, but if the violence escalates, cancelations may become a major issue,” Ayık said, adding that the tourism sector now finds itself in the midst of an unpredictable situation.

The latest rise in violence and the subsequent wave of political chaos is another potentially major headache for the industry.

Weakened by a downturn in Russian visitors to the southern Mediterranean province of Antalya in the midst of major economic problems in that country, the Turkish tourism sector is reporting higher vacancy rates in hotels, many of which have been forced to cut prices. Many larger hotels have been forced to make personnel cuts.

Turkey’s average hotel occupancy rate fell 7.6 percent last month year-on-year, the largest drop in occupancy among the surveyed countries in Europe, according to an announcement the Turkey Hoteliers’ Association (TUROB) released last week. While the overall occupancy rate for hotels in Turkey stood at 68.6 percent in June of 2014, that number dipped to 63.3 percent last month, the TUROB said in its announcement, citing figures from the STR Global analysis firm.

Average room prices have also dropped alongside falling occupancy rates. The average room price stood at 149.1 euros in June of 2014, decreasing to 134.5 euros last month. Many upscale hotels have been forced to cut prices in an effort to attract visitors during a particularly rough period for the Turkish tourism sector.

TÜROFED said earlier this month it forecasts an economic cost of $5 billion due to the falling number of visitors to Turkey. The federation said tourists to Turkey had also spent fewer days in the country on average so far this year as compared to 2014.

The perception that the wars in Iraq and Syria are spilling over into Turkey has only been heightened by Turkish airstrikes against terrorist groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as fire exchanged over the Syrian border between the latter and the Turkish military.