Jul 05, 2016

    Turkey tourism takes a hit after terror attack on airport


    NEARLY a week after the deadly airport bombings last Tuesday, it is eerily quiet in Istanbul.

    For people working in the once-thriving tourist trade, the attacks represent more nails in the coffin for an industry already reeling from terrorism this year.

    Restaurants sit empty in the Sultanahmet tourist district while five-star hotel rooms can be booked for bargain prices.

    In happier years, the queues outside the Hagia Sophia museum might have stretched an hour or longer at this time of the year.

    Now, you can walk straight in.

    Nineteen foreigners were among the 45 people killed at the Ataturk airport by suspected Islamic State gunmen. Analysts say it may have been a deliberate attempt to weaken the Turkish state by hitting its tourist industry.

    In May, Turkey suffered its worst drop-off in visits in 22 years - down 35 per cent from a year ago - as an industry which ordinarily brings in 30 billion euros (S$45 billion) went into free fall.

    This was partly a result of a Russian ban on Turkish holidays that Moscow had slapped on Ankara over a bitter diplomatic row.

    That ban was lifted last week but Russian tourists are likely to skip Istanbul for the sun and seaside resort province of Antalya.