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Saturday, March 17, 2018

The first non-Russian seasons: what will happen to Turkey without the Russians

In anticipation of the summer holidays, many Russians think about different versions of holiday abroad. While in the past many people opted for the Turkey with its hotels of “all inclusive” system, but this year the situation has changed radically. The deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations and the terrorist attacks that occurred in Istanbul and Ankara, caused great damage to the tourism sector of the country.

The beaches at Marmaris are mostly bars and restaurants. Photo: Ksenia Kara

The sun has already warmed the sand, the air smells like flowers and sunscreen market tables groaning with strawberries and peaches, and employees of restaurants and hotels enthusiastically prepared their institutions for the arrival of guests. The resort town woke up from hibernation, and seemingly everything goes on as usual, but in people’s eyes froze dumb question — and whether Russian?

Antalya will suffer the most

For anybody not a secret that tourism in Turkey is one of the most important and successful industries, as well as a significant source of revenue in the budget of the country.

At a meeting with industry representatives, the Chairman of the Union of hoteliers of the Mediterranean coast Yusuf Hedgeslammer said that in 2015, Turkey was visited by 11.3 million tourists, of which 2.7 million visitors from Russia. According to him, the most severe crisis awaits the Antalya region, which works mainly with two large areas — Germany and Russia. These countries provided up to 55% of total revenue.

The Turkey’s image has suffered greatly as a result of the terrorist attacks, influx of refugees and in connection with the General political situation. As told Hedgeslammer, despite the fact that the 2015 season was not very successful, the loss of tourists amounted to no more than 700 thousand people. In the same year the provisional figure of losses is 4-4,5 million tourists. The tourism sector as a powerful locomotive, pulling an various sectors of the economy, and its collapse will lead to a crisis in many other areas. One of them may become production — Turkish hotels consume up to 94% of local products.

A forced change of direction

Due to the fact that the queries in Russian firms remain unanswered, Turkey has actively focused its efforts on attracting tourists from other countries. One of the most popular Turkish resorts, Marmaris has long been chosen for himself and guests from the UK, Scandinavia, Holland, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and in the last few years there has been a significant influx of Arab guests.

In the whole country and Marmaris in particular great hopes on domestic tourism. Some institutions even go on a shift, for example, European restaurants include the menu of Turkish dishes. The loss of the Russians and reduce the flow of Europeans to the industry is planning to partially cover its tourists.

Russians are always happy”

Many of the hotels in Marmaris this year delayed the start of the season, some are forced to use only a few of its buildings, and someone has to close doors to tourists at all. For example, in one of the largest hotels in the city number of rooms booked with guests from Germany, fell almost 4 times compared to the previous year.

Shared his view Ayhan Demir, the General Manager of the hotel: “Without a doubt, for all the hoteliers upcoming season will be extremely difficult. Preliminarily we can say that the hotel occupancy rate will reach this year 40%. Of course, it is still too early to say anything specific, but I think the current situation will have its consequences in tourism for five years.”

Front office Manager of another hotel Omer akpinar told about their assumptions regarding 2016: “this year we opened the hotel more than a month later than usual. Russians accounted for a very large percentage of our guests. Now we are trying to fill the niche of tourists from other countries — UK, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine. A separate category is Turkish guests. Of course, the financial loss will be, now our hotel is not even half full”.

Animator Irina, along with her husband organized a variety show for hotels. “Our programs are mainly focused on the European audience,” says Irina. But we had to work with several hotels, where the rest only Russian, so this year they aren’t even open yet, and whether to open unknown. The hotels cut back the budget on the animation, and therefore, we have to take not quality, but quantity. It is very unfortunate”.

No bags, no bouquets, no wedding

The lack of Russian tourists affected not only hotels, but also restaurants, cafes and numerous shops.

Gold is in demand among Arab tourists, and sports shoes and apparel — from the British, the Russians were always the main buyers of leather jackets and handbags. Now the leather business owners anxiously await what will be selling in the upcoming season. It is already apparent that many departments on the covered bazaars are closed, some are hanging signs “for rent” or “for sale”. “I have nothing to pay the salary of employees”, — says the owner of the shop with bags and wallets. “I always have the Russians bought a lot, said that they have at home leather bags are five times more expensive. And now we will try to sell… and the Russian-speaking sellers don’t need to.

By the way, about Russian-speaking workers — now their services are not required, no shops, no hotels. If the earlier girl with a knowledge of Russian and English fought the employers, it is now all one answer: “what are we going to do with your Russian?..”

Turkan, the owner of a small flower shop near the center of the city, shares his concerns over this summer: “My shop is located directly adjacent to several small hotels that were very much Russian. As you know, tourists don’t often purchase on holiday flowers, but the bouquets for beautiful girls, the Turkish men I have regularly ordered. In the season in Marmaris, it takes a lot of weddings, including the Russo-Turkish. It is a profitable time for my business is the decoration of wedding cars, rooms, Bridal bouquets…. Every year a huge number of Turks marrying Russian girls. And now the wedding will be less. In General, no Russian tourists, the city will change”.

The bar street has become more accessible

Relatively speaking, all tourists can be divided into several groups according to their favorite pastime: guests from the UK prefer to relax by the pools, and then a long night at the bars, guests from the Arab countries prefer shopping and good rest within the hotel, and tourists from Russia and the former Soviet Union like all sorts of excursions and dances till the morning in night clubs.

In a nightclub Crazy Daisy now you can buy drinks much cheaper. Photo: Salva Burhan

What awaits the famous street of bars this summer? I asked the co-owner of one of the most popular night clubs in Marmaris of elkera of Cavalera: “Our bar was always very loved by visitors from Russia. Russians love to dance, to party, they always lit the dance floor. The Turks or the British a little different culture recreation, but it depends on the Russian, they also joined in the atmosphere of dancing and fun. You can say that Russians are attracted to clubs by other travelers. We decided not to risk it and slightly change my concept. In the upcoming season, our bar will be the place, directed not only to foreign guests but also for locals. The club now sounds more Turkish music, we invite Turkish artists”.

Another area that may suffer more serious losses, is a tour service. Tours with a tour of various historical sites the most bought Russian. In addition to excursions Marmaris to Pamukkale, Ephesus and the Greek island of Rhodes is a very popular boat trips on yachts. This year the owners of the yacht are counting on tourists from other post-Soviet countries — Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Lithuania. Now many shore excursions booked guests from Ukraine. This was told to me by the owner of a boat plying in the so-called Maiden braids, so beloved by tourists.

In good faith

Tourism is the main source of income for most locals, and, despite the fact that people support the policy of the state or not, to think about his bread they have to. Faith in the best, hard work and cheerfulness are the main features, which do not allow the Turks to give up in any situation.

Guests from Russia have always occupied a niche in the Turkish tourism sector, many hotels accept only Russians, workers have learned basic phrases in Russian, a visa a few years ago were cancelled. Russia and Turkey for many years have been friendly countries, and this friendship in the first place was to good relations between ordinary people. The Turks believe that these warm relations will continue in the future and over the hotels in Turkey will still be waving the Russian tricolor.

Ksenia KARA,

Marmaris, the “MK”in Turkey.

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