Up-to-date numbers from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism reveal that foreigners arriving in Turkey have seen an increase from primarily Asia and Russia. Arrivals from Asia in May increased 16% year-on-year to reach 448,117, almost reaching 2015 levels before the tourism industry experienced a contraction.
The largest rebound in source markets, however, has been Russia. Russian arrivals jumped from 41,004 last May to 608,472 this year, a rise of 1383% year-on-year, as per ministry figures, surpassing 2015 levels during the same month at 501,196. The surge in Russian tourists can be explained by Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia, with the latter lifting sanctions on Turkey and the resumption of charter flights.
These numbers show a pivot away from Europe, which has traditionally been a market source for Turkey’s tourism industry. In May, European tourists declined by almost 20% year-on-year to 1.1 million. This represents a stark difference from when European arrivals in May of 2015 accounted for 54% of all incoming foreigners. They made up only 38% this May.
Diplomatic rows between Turkey and Europe, particularly leading up the former’s referendum in mid-April over the question of holding political rallies in foreign countries, meant that tensions were at an all-time high.
In recent years, Turkey’s tourism sector has been dealt a blow after a series terrorist attacks and a failed coup last July saw a dwindling of incoming arrivals and tourism receipts, with the number of visitors falling roughly a third to 25 million. Visitor exports contracted 22% last year to 80 billion lira from 102.6 billion lira in 2015, according to the most recent report issued by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
However, as per WTTF projections, this trend should begin to reverse itself, albeit slowly, with spending by international tourists slated to grow .7% this year to 80.6 billion lira.