Back to business after the referendum?

The German tourism industry is hoping for political stability in Turkey and better demand now the controversial referendum is over.

April 20, 2017

The victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the referendum to change the country’s constitution to a presidential system was much narrower than expected.

The three biggest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – as well as most of western and southern Turkey, including the main tourism areas, along with most of the Kurdish south-east region all rejected the plan. The No vote carried the day, for example, in Antalya province with 59%, Mugla province (including Bodrum and Dalaman) with 64% and Izmir province with 69%.

Turkish hoteliers and the German tourism industry are now hoping that the heated atmosphere of the election campaign will calm down again and enable them to generate more bookings for the troubled destination. German bookings for Turkey are down by about 30% again this year after visitor numbers already slumped by 35% to 3.6 million in 2016.

Hüseyin Baraner, foreign representative of the Turkish travel agents association Türsab, commented: “Whoever is protesting against Erdogan by not travelling to the tourist regions of Turkey is hitting above all those people who didn’t support his referendum.” Four million jobs depend directly on tourism and many more are indirectly dependent, he pointed out.

Most bookings for Turkey are late sales at present, according to German tour operators. With higher prices this year in Spain and Greece and reductions in Turkey, many tour operators are putting their hopes in families for this summer.

Songül Göktas-Rosati, managing director of Thomas Cook subsidiary Öger Tours, the market leader to Turkey, said: “We already saw a positive trend in Turkey bookings before the referendum, despite the political discussion. In terms of daily bookings, we have been ahead of last year for several weeks.” She hopes for “good last-minute business” to further boost bookings.

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