Cyprus Mail
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Turkey announces plan to bolster beleaguered tourism sector

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu unveiled a plan on Monday to support Turkey’s tourism sector, hit by tensions with Russia and domestic insecurity, including a 255 million lira ($87) grant and a facility to allow tourism firms to restructure debt.

Turkey is especially popular with German tourists, but has seen demand fall after a suicide bomber killed 10 Germans in Istanbul in January. Russians have meanwhile been told to stay away by Moscow after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the border with Syria last October.

Tourism finances more than half of Turkey’s current account deficit, based on figures from 2014, which is seen as one of the country’s biggest economic weaknesses.

Turkey faces multiple security threats. It is part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and has seen suicide bombings in towns including Istanbul and Ankara over the past year blamed on the group.

It is also fighting a renewed conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group pushing for autonomy in the southeast, and has been shelling Syrian Kurdish militia fighters across the border.

A group linked to the PKK claimed responsibility on Friday for a car bomb attack in Ankara last week which killed 28 people, most of them soldiers.

Davutoglu said he expected Russia tourists, who favour southern beach towns such as Alanya and Antalya, to keep coming to Turkey, despite their government’s stance.

Tourism revenues in Turkey dropped 14.3 per cent in the final quarter of last year. Full-year tourism revenues fell 8.3 per cent, according to the Turkish Statistics Institute.

TUI, the world’s largest tour operator, this month reported a 40 per cent drop in summer bookings to Turkey due to safety concerns.

Eight cruise companies – MSC, Costa, Thomson, Aida, Crystal, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises – have cancelled cruises to Turkey because of security concerns, according to the Chamber of Commerce of Izmir, a coastal district.

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