The number of tourists coming to Turkey took a positive turn in April, with the sector expecting a 20-percent increase in data for May. However, all eyes are still set on "last minute" reservations from European tourists. For 2018, experts expect a repeat of 2014's impressive statistics, while forecasting a huge leap in 2019.
The tourism sector, which shifted negative indicators towards the positive in the first three months of April, has high hopes for 2017. In April, the number of tourists coming to Turkey rose 18.10 percent compared to the same month last year, while tourism representatives predict that the anticipated May data - not yet announced - will also correspond to an increase of around 20 percent.
According to data compiled from Turkey's tourist capital of Antalya, there has been an increase of 30 percent compared to the previous year's five-month period. While the normalization process with Russia came as a welcomed relief to coastal cities, the number of reservations being made by Israeli tourists has also shown a significant increase.
The decline in the number of European tourists is expected to take a positive turn in July, August and September. No vacancies, especially in Spain and Greece due to high demand coupled with price hikes, indicate that European tourists prefer Turkey for its "last minute" deals. Likewise, the recent terrorist attacks in European capitals have revealed that security problems are not solely isolated to Turkey.
On the other hand, the number of Israeli tourists increased by 19 percent to 45,579. A decline also dominates Europe, where Turkey is the strongest in the tourism market. The number of German tourists visiting Antalya dropped by 35 percent to 376,212 in the five-month period compared to the same period last year. However, declines were not only experienced in Germany but also in the Netherlands, the U.K., Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, France and Austria.
Tourism representatives believe that Turkey will return to its "default settings" in 2018 if there are no extraordinary developments, with 2019 expected to mark a substantial leap in terms of sales. The sector, which defines tourism as the "smiling face of the economy," wants to market Turkish destinations with strategic and optimistic campaigns.
After a few years of a sluggish tourism sector, the arrival of Russian tourists in Antalya has pleased sector leaders. Further, the "last minute deal" movement is also expected to hit the European market. The number of tourists coming to Antalya in the summer months increased 30 percent compared to the same period last year. Around 1.9 million tourists visited Antalya during the January-May period and the number of Russian tourists arriving in Turkey surged by 5.315 percent in May compared to the same period last year, while the number of Russian tourists who came to Antalya from January-May stood at 691,484. The number of Ukrainian tourists increased by 53 percent to 136,399. There were also a significant increase in the number of Israeli tourists.