Members of the country's tourism sector are anxious that the developments could tarnish the country's image abroad, thereby causing losses for tourism-related businesses.
In comments to Turkish media outlets on Monday, Turkish Association of Travel Agents (TÜRSAB) President Başaran Ulusoy underlined that those involved in the protests, which began as peaceful demonstrations but then turned into violent clashes between riot police and protestors, should be careful of the images they are providing in social media, adding that a year lost in tourism could take three to four years to gain back.
He noted that both government and protesters must be use common sense.
There has been some cancellations of hotel bookings, he said, “But we will overcome this together. I spoke with Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik who explained the situation to his counterparts. We are all trying to decrease the effects of the damage to Turkey's image.”
He said the achievements of the tourism sector did not happen suddenly and explained that since the 1990s the sector has made tremendous efforts and made gains inch by inch. “We don't want to lose that in one day. The protesters should act carefully and stay away from provocations. We should not give power to our competitors in global markets.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) also commented to the Hürriyet daily that the tourism sector has been affected by the protests in Taksim and that as a result many tourists were transferred to hotels in the Sirkeci and Sultanahmet areas. “The protest unsettled the tourists in İstanbul, especially in the area where protests were held. We received numerous complaints. So far, 30 percent of hotel reservations have been cancelled in İstanbul, but not anywhere else in Turkey. However, if this continues, the cancellations will rise. The tourists are bothered by the tear gas. Some changed hotels, but some of them also left the country.”
In addition, the chairman of the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) Osman Ayık also commented on the issue saying that “many protests held in other provinces seem peaceful. The ones in Antalya in particular do not bother the tourists. But if the situation continues, we might experience cancellations there as well.”
Travel Agencies Managers Association (SAYD) Vice President Sefa Altınay also said travel agency managers had to write letters to their counterparts in other countries explaining the situation. He explained that the way foreign media portrayed the events drives tourists away and underlined: “Tourism can only be alive where safety is established. The pictures shown regarding the protest are the opposite. We advise the peaceful protesters who seek their rights to stay away from groups who have used a peaceful event to cause violence.”
CihanGüncelleme Tarihi: 05 Haziran 2013, 11:24