Cyprus Mail

German travellers warned of arrest risks in Turkey, bookings take hit

ISTANBUL, March 11 (Reuters) – Sales of vacation packages to Turkey have dropped after a Turkish minister last week warned away those with unfavourable political views and Germany, in response, tightened its travel advice, the head of a hotel association said on Monday.

Timur Bayindir, head of the Hotel Association of Turkey, told Reuters that some tour operators participating in a travel show in Berlin were selling as few as 300-500 packages per day after the warning from Turkey, down from 1,000 per day.

“The perception of ‘You would be arrested if you go to Turkey’ emerged. We tried to tone down this negative perception during ITB Berlin,” Bayindir said referring to the travel show that ran March 6-10 in Berlin.

“The business, which was going well, stumbled. Some tour operators told us that their sales have gone down,” he added.

Last year, 4.5 million German citizens visited Turkey, which hosted some 40 million total tourists in 2018. Only Russians outnumber Germans visiting Turkey.

But on Wednesday last week, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Ankara had taken measures to determine whether Europeans who are coming to Turkey’s popular holiday destinations have alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We also took measures for them now. Let them come and enter through our airports. Bam, they’ll be arrested and Yallah (sent away),” Soylu said.

On Saturday Germany changed its travel advice for visitors to Turkey, warning citizens they risked arrest there for expressing opinions that would be tolerated at home.

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