In the first of three articles focussing on tourism, The Middle East looks at Turkey which hopes to benefit from the collapse of the holiday market in the former Yugoslavia. But even Turkey has to make an effort to reassure visitors about their security.
FIGHTING IN BOSNIA, which has led to a virtual collapse of the tourism industry in the former Yugoslavia, and attacks by Islamic fundamentalist groups on Western tourist buses in Egypt, have given the Turkish tourism sector a new lease of life. Officials in Ankara are predicting a bumper year in 1993, having recovered form the side-effects of the Kuwait crisis.
During the campaign to liberate Kuwait two years ago, Turkish tourism suffered heavily from cancellations, pushing many tourist operators to the brink of bankruptcy. But last year Turkish operators started to recover as Western visitors returned. According to Turkey's minister of tourism, Abdulkadir Ates: "In 1992, seven million foreigners visited Turkey bringing in $3.8bn in revenue. This year we expect 8.5m arrivals and $4.5bn in revenue."
Of the two million tourists from Germany alone which Yugoslavia lost as the result of the crisis in the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Tunisia will be the chief beneficiaries. As a tourist destination, Turkey recently won a gold medal from the German Travel Association, beating Greece and Spain. The only drawback of the Yugoslav crisis is that the overland route from Europe to Turkey has been largely severed.
Turkey currently has a hotel-bed capacity of 210,000, but the plan is to make 300,000 more available over the next few years. The sector is a major revenue earner - roughly equivalent to about a third of export earnings.
However, Turkey has political problems of its own in the south-east of the country where a nine-year revolt by Kurdish separatists have resulted in almost 6,000 deaths. While this has not affected arrivals coming to Turkish Mediterranean and Aegean destinations such as Antalya, Alanya, Kemer, Fetihye, Bodrum, Uludeniz and Kusadesi, foreign investment in Turkish tourism is still on hold.
Turkey is taking no chances in averting a Kurdish threat to tourism with the same disastrous consequence to the industry as Islamic extremists have wrought in Egypt. Adverse publicity caused by attacks on foreigners has cost the Egyptian tourist trade $500m in the last five months alone. The Turkish government has stepped up security, especially at vulnerable resorts in Cappadocia and in...