A visa crisis that broke out on Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a statement announcing that the visa procedures for Turkish citizens had been halted, an action condemned by Turkish authorities, was resolved at the end of December. After the termination of the crisis, demands for tour packages to the U.S. from Turkey increased by 30 percent and tourism sector representatives foresee the continuity of the demand in 2018.
U.S.-based cruise firm Royal Caribbean Turkey Marketing Communications Director Cihangir Canıyılmaz said 3,500 people from Turkey cruised on Caribbean tours with departures from Miami in 2016 and the figure rose to 4,200 in 2017. "Before the outbreak of the visa crisis, the number of passengers who preferred cruise tourism to the U.S. hovered around 4,000. After the crisis was resolved, the figure momentarily rose to 5,500 with an increase of above 30 percent. Had the crisis continued, we would have lot 80 percent of the last year's figures.
The U.S.-based cruise tourism company plans to send 5,500 to 6,000 tourists from Turkey for cruise tours that depart from Miami. Canıyılmaz further highlighted that Turkish Airlines (THY) flights to Miami have also boosted touristic demand to cruise tours because tourists directly fly to Miami to participate in the Caribbean cruise tour programs. The guests of the program spend one night in Miami at a luxury hotel while enjoying the opportunity to see Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Martin.
Prontotour Chair Ali Onaran said, "Tour sales to the U.S. before the crisis were bought by 100 people and the number increased to 130 after the resolution of crisis." The Turkish tourists to the U.S. generally prefer the country for health, business, and educational purposes. "Around 20,000 people visit the U.S. for vacation purposes by tour events. Miami-Orlando tours receive the highest demand from Turkish tourists," Onaran said.