Antalya, Turkey. Iranian tourists better for business
Photo: Danny Sadeh
Officials in the Turkish government claimed the crisis with Israel following the Gaza-bound aid flotilla did not harm the country's tourism industry – quite the contrary.
In an interview with Turkish daily newspaper Zaman published Sunday, Turkish Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay said the tourism industry has seen a boost in revenues since Israeli tourists began shunning the Mediterranean vacation destination.
"Turkey has stabilized its tourism industry consistently. The industry's 10% growth, which is higher than the world average, steadily continues," he told the Turkish newspaper.
Yasmin Gil, Calcalist
Israel Airports Authority reports sharp decline in number of passengers who traveled to from Ben-Gurion Airport last month following flotilla affair. According to data, travel to country actually increased by 14% during the first half of 2010
Turkish Hoteliers Federation Vice Chairman Seçim Aydın said the crisis with Israel had in fact a positive influence on business, due to a rise in the number of tourists from the Middle East.
"People choose to come to Turkey because of the hospitality, cultural values and various resort choices, offered at a reasonable price. The decrease in the number of Israeli visitors led to an increase in the number of visitors from neighboring countries," he said.
Aydın confirmed that "the Marmara crisis led many Israeli tourists to cancel their vacations; however we've doubled the number of reservations since. Therefore, the problems with Israel did not harm the tourism industry in Turkey – but in fact improved it," he said, noting that those who did suffer a setback were business owners working especially with Israelis.
The Hoteliers Federation claimed the change in tourists' nationalities also contributed to the success of the industry. According to Aydın, the Israeli tourists preferred full vacation packages and didn't leave their hotels, while other tourists "travel across Turkey. For example, he added, "Last week the city of Van was full of Iranian tourists who love shopping in stores."
The tourism minister noted that despite the crisis, Israeli visitors were still welcomed in his country. "The Turkish people have no problem with the Israeli people. Despite the Israeli government's mistakes, hundreds of thousands of Israelis come to our country and enjoy wonderful vacations.
"We are always happy to host them," said Gunay, and suggested that the Israeli voters "get rid" of their rightist government.
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