After elections, uncertainty remains over the state of Turkey’s tourism

Published November 3rd, 2015 - 04:34 GMT
In the third quarter this year, tourism in Turkey has decreased 4.4 percent. (AFP/File)
In the third quarter this year, tourism in Turkey has decreased 4.4 percent. (AFP/File)

The results of Turkey’s parliamentary elections Sunday spelled success for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which regained its majority and fueled a slight rise in tourists to Istanbul.

Just after the AKP’s election victory, the Turkish lira made its biggest leap since 2008, rising 3 percent against the US dollar.

But that might not be the whole story — hotels have continued to slash their rates to stay afloat. The polling also exposed tensions with the Kurds and has raised concerns over political instability.

The World Tourism Organization ranked Turkey the sixth most attractive tourist destination in 2014, the Turkish Statistics Institute said tourism fell 4.4 percent in the third quarter this year. The blow came just weeks after Daesh (ISIS) twin suicide bombings, killing more than 100 people in the capital Ankara.

It’s unclear how Turkish elections will factor into the country’s struggling industry. On Sunday tensions continued when Turkish security forces fired tear gas on Kurdish protesters near Diyarbakir, further labeling Turkey a precarious destination. Russian airstrikes could be another factor, as its involvement in Syria began just a month before voting.

For now, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stands by his lofty goals for the tourism industry. Ilker Ayci, chairman of the Turkish Airlines board, has ambitions of welcoming 50 million tourists to Turkey by 2023 — a 19 percent increase from last year.

But Turkish residents don’t expect to see that happening anytime soon, as the country remains torn over the ruling party.

By Elizabeth Tarbell 

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