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Jul 22, 2016 | 18:27 GMT

2 mins read

Turkish Tourism Takes a Hit

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Turkish Tourism Takes a Hit

Militant attacks, geopolitical tension with neighbors and an extra dose of political instability following the failed July 15 coup attempt have hurt Turkey's tourism industry. The sector, which accounts for 12.9 percent of Turkey's gross domestic product and employs 8.3 percent of its labor force, plummeted by 23 percent the first five months of 2016 and is continuing to slide.

Generally, a major jolt like the June 28 attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport affects tourism only for a few months at most. (The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates it takes around 13 months for a country's tourism sector to recover from a significant terrorist attack.) Turkey's security vulnerabilities, however, will prolong the downturn. The country faces an array of threats from the Islamic State, Kurdish separatists and left-wing radicals, all of whom share an incentive to aggravate Turkey's political crisis by fueling conspiracies and sowing seeds of distrust of the government.

After Germans, Russians make up the largest group of tourists traveling to Turkey, a factor that contributed to the dramatic drop the country has seen in tourist traffic since Turkey's November 2015 downing of a Russian warplane. Now that Turkey and Russia are beginning to reconcile, Ankara can expect some Russian tourists to return, though a more sustained recovery will depend on how much Turkey's security environment improves. For now, a marked improvement appears unlikely. The Turkish government's purge of the military, security and intelligence apparatuses in the wake of the coup will hamper the government's ability to remain vigilant against attacks. Turkey's participation in the fight against the Islamic State may also be disrupted as the government works to mend the military following the massive purges.

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