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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Europe’s leading tour operators to increase Turkey’s share by up to 20 pct

Since European tourists have maintained their appetite for tourism in Turkey despite perception-shifting operations conducted against Turkey across the continent, tour operators have increased Turkey’s share in the tours they plan to organize for next year by 15 percent. The Corendon Group, one of the largest tour operators in the Netherlands, and one of the world’s largest U.K.-based travel agencies, Thomas Cook, have reported that they will increase Turkey’s share by 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Despite the perception management operations being carried out in Europe against Turkey, the interest of European tourists has had a positive effect on planning for 2018. In a period when tour operators made airline agreements, tour operators in Europe decided to increase Turkey’s share in the tours they plan to organize for next year by 15 percent. Yıldıray Karaer, chairman of the Corendon Group, which brought 350,000 tourists to the country in 2016, including Belgians and Germans, said they experienced slight decline due to Turkey’s tensions with the Netherlands this year, highlighting that the situation improved after tensions were eased. “The demand increased; especially demand for last-minute sales. However, we had a hard time finding aircraft to accomodate demand. Our goal this year is to reach the same figures we saw in 2016. We plan to increase our capacity by 20 percent next year,” he added.

High interest in Turkey

Corendon Airlines Chairman Karaer pointed out that aircraft contracts were made in August. “We held preliminary talks on the issue and it will become clear in September. However, we see that interest in Turkey is high in Europe,” Karaer said.Thomas Cook Turkey Representative and Diana Travel’s General Manager Burak Tonbul stated that demand is high and that they decided to increase Turkey’s share by 15 percent in 2018. “We predict that interest from Germany and Belgium will increase by 10 percent and the U.K. by 20 percent by 2018. We are planning a capacity increase in this direction.”

Titanic Hotels Deputy Chairman Temel Aygün said that the decline in demand from Europe and Germany for Turkish tourism has not stemmed from people living in these countries, pointing out that that it was a political event. “German politicians are constantly speaking against Turkey. They use Turkey as an election material. I think the atmosphere will soften after the elections in September,” Aygün said, recalling that the inflow of tourists from Germany continues despite politically motivated manipulation, adding that there will be a 10-percent increase in the number of tourists coming from Germany in 2018.

2015 figures to be reached

Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) Chairman Osman Ayık said that the markets experiencing losses in Europe shifted towards destinations like Spain and Greece, adding that none of these countries can substitute the capacity of Turkey, noting that the intense demand for Spain, Greece and Bulgaria also pulled up prices by 20-30 percent. “They are already far behind Turkey in terms of service quality. They are not very profitable markets for tour operators either. We think that the demand for Turkey will increase next year as a result of such factors,” Ayık said.

Underlining that the situation will become clearer after September, Ayık said the reason for the decline in Europe, especially in Germany, is political, stressing that if the atmosphere of the public softens and no terrorist incidents occur, TÜROFED is likely to get very fast returns. He also recalled that the number of tourists coming to Turkey dropped by 10 million last year, Ayık said that between 5-6 million people will return and the figure of 30 million tourists will be caught this year. “If the atmosphere with Europe softens and Russia maintains the same performance we have seen thus far, we can even reach 2015 numbers in 2018,” he concluded.Meanwhile, in late July, the 176-year-old British tourism giant Thomas Cook said that the number of tourists increased 11 percent compared to the previous year, noting that Turkey has recovered well in the wake of last year’s events.

Thomas Cook also said that the decline in tour sales due to terrorism-induced fear last year has seen improvement and European tourists have recently increased their demand for travel in Turkey and Greece.

Furthermore, the British tourism giant stressed that Turkey, whose tourism sector was adversely affected by political instability, terrorist attacks and coup attempt in 2016, has recovered very well and has become a favorite spot preferred by customers once again.(dailysabah)

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