According to figures published by the website of popular Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, in the first half of 2013 the number of Israeli tourists surged by around 80% to 57,000 from 31,652 in the same period the previous year.
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"After the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Turkey lost most of its Israeli tourists to Greece or other countries," an Antalya-based tourism representative told the website. "Fortunately, just after Israel’s formal apology in March 2013, this trend began to turn around for us.”
The source added that the number of their Israeli guests had increased to 5,500 this year, up from 1,300 last year.
In addition, Netanyahu's formal apology over the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 has already increased Turkish tourism companies’ expectations to return back to the heyday of Israeli-Turkish tourism ties, Hurriyet reported, as they will have more space to promote Turkey as a tourism spot now that the political constraints are removed.
Many Israelis to spend this summer in Turkey. Club in Antalya (Photo: Noam 'Dabul' Dvir)
Following 2010 incident, tourism between the two countries decreased sharply, with the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey dropping sharply to 79,140 in 2011, down from around 500,000 in 2008, according to data compiled by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
Riots in Turkey? Tourism at its peak
Opposition protests against Erdogan and his government in recent months have not caused tourists to stay away from Turkey.
For example, a total of 9,519,922 people arrived for vacations in Turkey in the second quarter of 2013 (while Israel had 3.5 million visitors in all of 2012), and the income from tourism in that quarter reached $8.68 billion – a 22.8% increase from the same period last year.
The Turks are also going abroad more, and according to the Turkish Statistical Institute, the residents' departures to vacations overseas have seen an 8.8% increase, with 1,835,515 Turks going abroad in the second quarter of 2013. Economic crisis, anyone?