Hotel in Antalya, Turkey
Photo: Ilan Halperin

Demand soars for flights to Turkey

Following reconciliation between countries, hundreds of Turkish charter flights scheduled to land in Tel Aviv in next few months to take Israelis to Antalya, other popular tourist destinations

VIDEO – It's only a few short weeks ago that US President Barack Obama brokered the reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. Israelis were yearning to go back to Turkey, which until a few years ago was the No. 1 tourist destination for Israelis.


Travel agencies are trying to accommodate the increasing demand with hundreds of Turkish charter flights already scheduled to land at Tel Aviv's airport in the next few months to take Israelis to Antalya and other popular tourist destinations.


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"We were really excited to hear the news about the re-normalization in the relations between Israel and Turkey," says Shay Pardo, operations general manager at KTA International.


"As we all know, the people are the ones who make relationships work, and we are doing a better job than the leaders. I hope we will contribute our share in improving the relationship between the Turkish and the Israelis."


Pardo represents the majority of the Turkish Charter carriers in Israel. His enthusiasm represents the general public's attitude towards the reconciliation.


Haya Sharabi, a travel agent at Flying Carpet, says that "since the reconciliation we had an increase of 30 to 35% of reservations to Antalya. In the past two weeks we started having three flights a week, and as we draw closer to the summer we are going to have a daily flights with our cooperate partner, Onur Airlines.


"Since the Israelis stopped going over there to Antalya, they built new hotel resorts but the concept of all-inclusive is pretty much the same. This is what the Israelis love."


Menashe Carmon is the chairman of the Israel-Turkey Business Council, and as such feels he can give a bigger picture of the current situation.


"Turkey is a big country and the political views in Turkey are very different and very large, and foreign policy in Turkey is not very much the main issue in the media," he says. "It is an important issue, it is something that everybody can speak about but it's in priority No. 20, not like in the Israeli media where something is happening in this field we keep it No. 1 the primetime for three days.


"We cannot examine the economical challenge or economical success only through the Israeli eyes. When we see the bilateral connections, Turkey for Israel is No. 6 in importance of volume of commerce, and Israel for Turkey is only No. 17. Those are important markets – $4 billion annually for export and import makes it an important market.


"If Turkey is getting 30 million tourists per year, the 400,000 or 500,000 possible tourists from Israel are for them negligible. Of course, the Israeli tourist is an important tourist and he also comes off-season and knows how to spend money.


"People want to go to a country where they expect to feel welcomed, and this is starting to change. It will change much quicker than the business side."


Prosperous summer season? 

Many on both sides of the tourist industry are looking forward for a more prosperous summer season of Israelis spending their vacation in Turkey.


“It's still early for exact figures about how many passengers we are going to carry but we hope to come back to the happy days of three and four years ago when we operated with over half a million people per year," says Shay Pardo. "If we come close to this figure of course it will be a big success."


Haya Sharabi adds, "In all our conversations with our Turkish partners, they are really happy and really excited for the Israeli to come back to Antalya."


Before the Marmara incident created the rift between Turkey and Israel, over a half a million Israelis traveled annually to turkey for their vacation. It seems that the Turkish business owners are now anxiously waiting to welcome the Israelis back to their country.



פרסום ראשון: 04.14.13, 15:09
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