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Turkey tourism sector expecting 5 million Russian tourists in 2017 TOURISM

Istanbul- Turkish tourism experts forecast a tremendous increase in the number of Russian tourists this year, with about 5 million people expected to visit the country.

According to the report published by Turkey`s newspaper Daily Sabah, tourism sector representatives from 10 different countries gathered in Russian capital Moscow on Saturday to discuss the most recent upcoming trends in the sector at the World Tourism Forum's Russia Summit 2017, for which Turkuvaz Medya was the media sponsor. More than 350 participants including heads of tourism agencies, tour operators, hotel chains and transport companies from countries like Turkey, Russia, Spain, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Greek Cyprus participated in the event to discover new ideas that would help grow their businesses.

Russian tourists have been visiting Turkey for over 25 years as the warm beaches in the country have always appealed to the cold country's people. In 2014, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey peaked at 4.5 million, making Russia second on the list on Turkey's arrivals list. However, the number declined to 3.6 million in 2015 and plummeted further in 2016 to approximately 800,000 - December's data has not yet been announced - after the Nov. 24, 2015 incident in which Turkish F-16 jets downed a Russian Su-24 bomber for violating Turkey's airspace. Moscow implemented sanctions on Turkish goods and refused work permits to Turkish workers, and the Russian government also called on its citizens to not travel to Turkey.

Fortunately, with the normalization of relations, the Turkish tourism sector now has higher hopes about Russia. Turkish organizers of the World Tourism Forum preferred to hold the summit in Moscow, after organizing one in Antalya last month, giving the message that they missed their Russian visitors and their visitors also missed them.

 

LOCAL CURRENCIES IN TOURISM

About two months ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the beginning of a new period for foreign trade transactions in which local currencies will be used to obviate the pressure of exchange rates, securing a prompt response from the Russian Central Bank.

The president's call has turned into action between the Russian and Turkish central banks as they have built the infrastructure to make the transactions possible and also motivated banks and companies to produce alternative services like Turkey's Deniz Bank, which is owned by Russian Sberbank. Deniz Bank CEO Hakan Ateş said that they have already established call center services in Russian language and ATMs that withdraw rubles are now available. He also said that they are working with tour operators and hotels to make payments in Turkish lira and Russian ruble. "Russians will feel at home in Turkey," Ates said.

TOURISM FORUM IN SIX COUNTRIES

World Tourism Forum Chairman Bulut Bagcı said the summit gathered together leading tourism companies from Russia and Turkey to provide them a platform to discuss upcoming potential. Pointing to the sessions in the summit, Bagcı said the event was also aimed at discovering more about the Russian market. The summit itself created $7 million in trade volume, the forum chairman stated.

The World Tourism Forum's main event will be held in Istanbul on Feb. 16-18. "As of today, we have more than 3,000 participants registered for the event in Istanbul," Bagcı noted. Another summit will follow Istanbul on April 24 in Dubai. "Besides creating dynamism for the tourism sector, we are aiming to create a total trade volume of $1 billion by organizing events in Europe, Africa, the U.S., Asia, the Middle East and in Turkey and Russia as our special markets," Bagcı said.