ZAMAN newspaper - 02.10.2006
Growth in Tourism Despite Bird Flu Fears
The Turkish tourism sector, which experienced hard times due to incidences of bird flu in Turkey, has begun a successful recovery.
According to the statistics of tourism administrations in Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Mugla, the current growth rate is 25 percent compared to 2005; and reservations are also on the rise.
Turkey hosted 598,000 foreigners in January last year and increased this number to 743,000 in 2006.
The biggest growth took place in Istanbul with 42 percent. The number of foreign visitors to the city was 609,463 in January 2006 while it was 430,180 in January 2005.
Although 2006 was expected to be a difficult year, sector representatives said growth in the sector will continue as important steps in advertising are taken.
While many sectors in Turkey are locomotive, Tourism continues its steady course despite all negative developments. Even the bird flu, which made international headlines as a health concern and turned into a crisis in Turkey, was not an impasse for tourism.
As important as the growth in January is for the tourism sector, summer growth is far more important.
Tourism sector representatives said early reservations, which had decreased dramatically in the first half of January due to the bird flu crisis, have recovered.
Sector representatives think advertising campaigns planned until the end of February will boom the rate of reservations, and went as far as to request financial support from the government in this frame.
Chairman of the Turkish Hotel Keepers' Association (TUROB) Ahmet Barut said the growth in January is important, but not decisive, and added:
"The stagnation in early reservations in the first half of January gave its place to dynamism in the second half. Reservations will continue until the end of February. If we are provided with advertisement support we will be stronger in the sector."
Osman Ayik, President of the Mediterranean Tourist Hoteliers Corporation, also emphasized the importance of advertising in February.
By Ugur Sagindik, Antalya
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