The increase in the number of Russian tourists in the January and February periods reached record levels in Antalya, where the Russian tourism market saw a huge decline in 2016 due to the crisis that occurred in November 2015, when Turkey downed a Russian jet for violating the borders of Turkish airspace.
A total of 1,398 tourists came to Antalya in January-February 2016, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), mainly Russia, while the number of Russian tourists rose to 27,075 in the same period this year. The change in the two-month period in the CIS-Russian market was 1,837 percent, while in February alone, the number of tourists from the CIS and Russia market, which was 360 in the previous year, increased by 3,242 percent to 12,679, amounting to an increase rate of more than 35 times.
In January and February this year, the total number of tourists arriving in Antalya via travel agencies decreased by 25 percent. Given the number of tourists coming to Antalya via travel agencies, there was a 50 percent decline in Germany, one of the two main markets. Some 104,452 German tourists came in January-February last year, while the figure fell to 51,935 in the first two months of this year.
Recalling the serious decline in the Russian market last year, Recep Yavuz, head of the Antalya City Council Tourism Working Group, noted that Antalya was seriously affected by the decline in the number of Russian tourists, but it was also positively affected by the amelioration of relations. "Antalya has experienced a very drastic rise and fall in this respect. We anticipate that the uptrend will seriously continue in the CIS-Russia market until the end of September because the crisis was resolved in September last year," Yavuz said, adding that the increase will continue after September, but not as high as current figures. "We project 3.4 million tourists in this market throughout the year," Yavuz said.
While the total number of Russian tourists coming to Turkey in 2014 was 4.48 million, the number of Russians visiting Antalya stood at 3.48 million in the same period. According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry's data, the number of Russian tourists coming to Turkey in February 2014 was 60,593 while the number of visitors from the CIS countries were recorded as 288,522. Moreover, in 2014, the number of foreign tourists who accommodated in Antalya reached 11.9 million and the number of Russian tourists who accommodated in the city were recorded at 3.68 million.
Turkey's Black Sea appeals to Arab tourists
Suleiman Herwis walked around his brand new apartment amid a thick smell of paint and polish, checking its cupboards, the furniture and views from a balcony overlooking the Black Sea coastal town of Fatsa.
The Saudi Arabia-based physician says he is looking forward to vacations in this remote but more conservative part of Turkey, an area largely bypassed by Western tourists.
"It is more family-oriented here. For my culture, my background, this is more convenient," said the Libyan-born, 50-year-old from Riyadh, who was visiting his three-bedroom, fully furnished apartment for the first time. "The north (of Turkey) seems to be more conservative and (better) catering for family activities," he said.
At least four projects to lure visitors from the Gulf region and Arab nations are underway along Turkey's more traditional and conservative Black Sea coastline, where - unlike Turkey's more popular Mediterranean and Aegean coasts - residents and visitors opt for full body covering swimsuits and where bars selling alcohol are few and far between.
In nearby town of Ayvacik, in Samsun province, a tract of land atop a hill overlooking a lake awaits zoning for a planned Arab village.
The head of the local tourism association says more hotels and tourist complexes aimed at Arabs are being built in the area.
"Arabs ... like to have the same tradition (as they have at home). This is what they find here, in the Black Sea," said Ahmed Saed Omar Marta, a tourism adviser in Fatsa, who also owns a tourism agency.