Antalya vacation resort. 'No other alternative for Israeli families' (archives)
Photo: Ilan Halperin

Turkey vacation prices to drop due to tension

Travel agents estimate prices of holiday packages to plummet by tens of percentage points in order to convince Israelis to visit Turkey despite recent crisis. Number of Israelis who visited Turkish vacation resort down 40% in 2009

The prices of Turkey vacation packages are expected to plummet by tens of percentage points compared to previous years, Israeli travel agents estimate following talks with their Turkish colleagues.


The main reason for the price reduction is the Turks' desire to continue making an income from Israeli tourists despite the recent crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara.


The Turkish Tourism Ministry has stopped publishing the number of entries by Israeli tourists in the past few months, but unofficial data point to a 40% drop in the number of Israelis who visited the country compared to 2008, which was an all-time record year in the Turkish tourism industry with 500,000 Israelis visiting the country.


The sharp drop in the number of Israelis entering the country last year moved Turkey to the second place in the destinations favored by Israelis. The United States took the first place.


Sources in the tourism industry noted Saturday that the price and the value will determine what will happen on the Israel-Turkey line, and not one crisis or another.


"Turkey is the destination which provides the best value for money, and this is what Israelis are looking for," says a senior travel agent. "It's clear that this year, during the Passover holiday, the prices of vacations in Turkey will be cheaper than in previous years. The Turks will not want to completely miss out on tourism from Israel and it will be easier for them to offer low prices, as Passover takes place at the end of March, when the occupancy at Turkish holiday resorts is relatively low."


According to Yossi Fattal, head of the Israel Tourist and Travel Agents Association, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing all in his power to prevent Israelis from visiting his country.


"If there were any signs of plans to return there, recent events may cause Israelis to stay away from Turkey," says Fattal. "This is not just about declaration, but also about a feeling of hostility on the part of the Turks. A tourist will consider whether to travel to a place where he feels unwanted, and this is the case with tourism from Israel to Turkey."


'Israelis will continue traveling to Turkey'

Senior travel agents said Saturday that it was too early to assess the immediate affect of the latest crisis with Turkey, especially because January and February are very weak months for tourism and recreation, and because it's difficult to compare today's situation to that of January of 2009.


"Last year in January there was a war in Gaza and the economic crisis was at its peak, so people avoided going on vacation. This year January is a better month, at least in terms of the reservations made for Turkey. Nonetheless, the reservations and departures of the first two weeks of the months did not reflect the escalation in the crisis," says a leading travel agent offering vacation packages for Turkey.


Arnon Englander, CEO of the Holiday Lines company which operates charter flights to Antalya, said over the weekend that despite all the crises between Jerusalem and Ankara, Israelis continue traveling to Turkey and will continue traveling there in the future.


"Last summer, shortly after the airing of the TV series which is now being aired once again, masses of Israelis visited Antalya and the last month of August was the best August ever in terms of Israeli entries to Antalya. Even now, on weekends, planes to Turkey are full despite the small number of flights during the winter season. And don't be mistaken: The planes are filled with Israeli Jews."


According to Englander, "There is no alternative for what these clubs offer, and on Passover families with children have no other destination where they can spend time in vacation resorts. In Passover there are hardly any flights to most Greek islands, as it is still very cold in Bulgaria's vacation resorts."


פרסום ראשון: 01.19.10, 07:40
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