Turkey looking to welcome back Israeli tourists
After the Mavi Marmara incident drastically reduced the number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey, Turkish hoteliers and tourism companies are now looking to push the figures back up, with their first stand at an international tourism fair in three years.
Turkish hoteliers are set to arrive in Israel next week to participate in the IMTM international tourism fair, which is being held in the Tel Aviv Convention Center.
"Tourism to Turkey is in a tough spot due to the collapse of the Russian market, which formed the bulk of visits to the country," one of the hoteliers said. "There has also been a decrease in arrivals from other markets.
"The situation here is definitely not good and we would want the Israeli tourists who were really important visitors a few years back to return," he added.
Diyar İçkale, the owner of the Spice Hotel in Antalya, will also be in attendance at the convention, and is hoping for a boost in the number of Israelis taking trips to Turkey.
"The relations between the two sets of peoples are good and there is an improvement in relations between the countries," İçkale said.
"Personally I like Israelis. In Antalya the situation is really quiet and there is no reason to worry at all. You are an hour away from us and we want you here," she added.
In addition to İçkale and other hoteliers, a delegation from the Rixos chain of resorts will be coming in order to try and advance Israeli tourism to Turkey, particularly in Antalya. The delegation will be located at the Ksharei Teufa booth at the fair.
Until a few years ago the Turkish booth at the tourism fair in Tel Aviv was the largest out of all the foreign delegations. But following the Mavi Marmara incident, the stand began to shrink and for the last three years there has been no Turkish booth at the fair.
In 2015 about 224,000 Israeli tourists arrived in Turkey, a growth of 19 percent compared to 2014 and 36.5 percent compared to 2013. However, the figures still pale into comparison next to the pre-Mavi Marmara numbers, when Turkey welcomed over half a million Israeli tourists a year.