BY FIKRI CINOKUR
Turkey, which broke its all-time tourist records in 2019 with 45 million tourists and USD 34.5bn in foreign currency inflows, experienced a 69.14% decrease in the number of tourists and a 65.1% decrease in tourism income in 2020 due to the pandemic. 2020 tourism income stood at USD 12.6bn. Turkey opened to tourism in June 2021 and has since made significant breakthroughs in both the number of tourists and the amount of tourism income. Turkey hosted 21.5 million tourists and provided USD 16.8bn foreign currency inflows in the first nine months of 2021.
Focusing on exports to close the current account deficit in the Turkish economy, Turkey wants to boost morale in the economy using the tourism sector in 2022. The government is targeting USD 30bn in revenue in the new season. In other words, the sector will be the lifeblood of the economy.
Due to the constant increase in cost in the hospitality sector, due to the rise in energy, agriculture and food prices, as well as the rise in inflation and the rapid devaluation of the Turkish lira, Turkey will now focus on exports and tourism to close the current account deficit. The tourism sector, which closed the 2021 tourism season at a high level compared to last year, has already started to prepare for 2022.
THY, Corendon and SunExpress airlines announced the predicted number of seat sales for next year, according to their preliminary data. Sector representatives state that early reservation inquiries are going well for Turkey, especially from the Russian and European markets. They expect a very good year in 2022 if everything stays on track. However, they note that this depends on Turkey’s international affairs, which are already on a thin ice.
30 BILLION DOLLARS IN TARGETED TOURISM REVENUE
Nirvana Hotels CEO Korhan Alsan stated that the first indicators about 2022 are very promising. The 2021 end-year goal of USD 20bn in touristic income and 25 million tourists visiting Turkey is still likely to be met, he said. “We can also achieve numbers above our expectations. The prediction that the course of the pandemic will slow down in 2022, the success and capacity increase of the vaccination program, the adaptation to life with COVID -19, and the demand created by the travel plans that people postponed are obvious. This situation can even trigger a very positive return in tourism. We have to be ready for that,” he said.
Alsan emphasized that reservation flows will be slow in January-February 2022, and that there may be a demand explosion in reservations in the second half of March. He expects 40 million tourists and a tourism income of over USD 30bn for 2022. “When compared with the 2019 data, we can expect 2022 results to be very close to 2019 if we’re operating under normal conditions. In the very best case, we might expect 50 million tourists and USD 40bn income,” he says.