Turkish tourism sector officials organize scheduled flights

BETÜL ALAKENT
ISTANBUL
Published 01.08.2016 01:07
Updated 01.08.2016 01:08
Turkish tourism sector officials organize scheduled flights

Tourism sector representatives plan to collaborate with foreign agencies and work with scheduled flights, rather than organizing charter flights through tour operators.

The tourism sector has long preferred to work with charter flights, which has been profitable at increasing the number of tourists, but over the last 12 months, things have turned upside down for the industry. Terrorist attacks by DAESH and PKK not only caused many deaths, but also hurt the tourism sector, which has a high share of the gross national product - 6.2 percent in 2015. The sector experienced a significant decline in number of Russian tourists visiting the country following a travel ban imposed by the Kremlin after Turkey downed a Russian jet for violating Turkish airspace in November.

Since charter planes have lost their attraction as a profitable way to bring tourists, the sector has chosen change their business model. Organizing periodic charter flights through tour operators and depicting this process as wholesaling, sector players are getting ready to retail by incrementally working towards regularly scheduled flights in collaboration with foreign travel agencies. Tourism Investors Association Chairman and Atlas Global President Murat Ersoy said: "We will start organizing regular scheduled flights by going to the target market countries which send tourists to specific tourism regions in Turkey. We will make sure our member hotels will reach travel agencies worldwide through global reservation platforms and market their products. We will revive this implementation in 2017."

Noting that this model was implemented regarding Spain's Palme de Mallorca island ten years ago, Ersoy said: "Today 75 percent of reservations on this island can be directly transmitted to the end user, and the island is almost unaffected by crisis. Regular flights are made to the island from 30 regions in Europe. A similar model can be implemented in Turkey as well." Indicating that tour operators took risk with charter flights, Ersoy continued: "Tour operators can take vacancy risks of up to 20 percent. When they go over this, flights are immediately stopped. Charters flights start booking late and finish early while scheduled flights can start the season early and close it late." Pointing out that it would be easier to face costs by flying high and low-priced passengers, together with a floating price study, Ersoy said the number of passengers carried with scheduled flights would be higher than charter flights.

Stressing that there were last-minute customers who wanted to travel to Turkey from Germany and other European countries, Ersoy said these demands faced flight problems with reaching Turkey's holiday regions, with few flights returning. Recalling that Russia had lifted their ban, but the permit for charter flights had not yet been given, Ersoy said there were not enough seats for scheduled flights, so they needed to change their model and pass from wholesaling to retailing. Stressing that this model would increase tourist quality, Ersoy said: "Golf tourists with higher income do not prefer mass travel. They fly with scheduled flights. With this system, the average spending by a tourist can within five years go from $750 to over $1,000."

Ersoy says airline companies should assume the risks with scheduled flights, and that the system will settle in a couple of years. Recalling that Atlas Global first assumed this risk two years ago with flights from Kazakhstan to Antalya, Ersoy said: "During the first year, the planes went and came back empty, yet we did not cancel any flights. We even started the season early and closed it later, and increased our flights. When travel agencies see your stability, they trust you and start directing their sales towards you."

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