BY FEHMI KOFTEOGLU
TRY devaluation, which is at the top of the agenda in Turkey, is harming almost all fields.
But it has positive aspects in tourism.
Turkey has become a country with the highest number of foreign tourists in the Mediterranean. It has overtaken France, Spain, and Italy since TRY has rapidly depreciated against USD, EUR, and other currencies.
However, the situation is different in terms of tourism revenue per capita.
Foreign exchange (FX), which Turkey needs to earn for many reasons, notably the balance of payments, is provided from two main sources: exports and tourism.
The economic roadmap that will serve as a new model is based on unit price/ kilogram (kg) for exports and revenue per capita in tourism. However, there are some issues with this.
Turkey’s export unit price fell from USD 1.44 to USD 1.09 per kg in the last five years.
Turkey ranks 119th of 225 countries in terms of export value per kg.
Further, this was its position before the recent TRY depreciation – now, it could be lower.
The situation is similar for tourism revenue per capita.
Turkey receives the 6th highest number of foreign tourists in the world, but ranks 14th in terms of tourism revenue per capita.
Everyone, especially government officials, praises exports. But they do not allow people to critique its efficacy. We should be allowed to carry out evaluations and levy fair criticisms. The problem is important.
Turkey shouldn’t implement ‘new economic models’ with empty promises that are the government determines will save the day, but which don’t develop beyond a motto. Turkey should determine strategies based on the export of high-value products instead of unit price/kg. We should export, for instance, computers or chips, instead of ‘potato chips’. In terms of tourism, the country should set a course to attract segments that have high spending power.
Low TRY may be useful if such strategies are set, implemented, and used properly. This would be far better than the empty calls ‘to trust them’ (the government) to save the day.
If such a strategy was properly implemented, Turkey may get on a path it deserves in terms of the foreign visitor/revenue balance and will maintain the leadership in the Mediterranean region it achieved thanks to the pandemic.
The subject should be handled based on international developments, Turkey’s position in the sector, increasing competition, Turkey and its economic outlook, its relationship with employment, and across other fields.
This will pave the way for a realistic solution that could begin to solve the country’s economic problems.
Turkey has the highest number of tourists in the Mediterranean
Even during a pandemic, tourism competition in the Mediterranean continues. Turkey was the leader in terms of tourists in the region in the first 10 months of the year, overtaking France, Spain, and Italy, the country’s most important rivals in terms of foreign visitors.
Turkey, which has performed better than Spain during the pandemic, edged it out with the support of Turkish citizens living abroad. Spain welcomed 24.8 million tourists, while Turkey received 24.9 million visitors in total including 3.9 million Turkish nonresidents, in January-October. In the same period, France received 24 million tourists followed by Italy with 2 million, Greece with 15 million, Croatia with 10 million, and Egypt with 5 million.
However, Spain is far ahead of Turkey in terms of total and per capita tourism revenues.
Turkey earned USD 20.3bn tourism revenue, including USD 3.1bn from Turkish citizens residing abroad and USD 16.4bn from foreign tourists, in the third quarter of 2021, according to the Central Bank. Spain’s tourism revenues totaled EUR 27.5bn (USD 31bn).
Istanbul is the city with the third-highest number of visitors for entertainment
Bans and measures to shut down entertainment venues due to the pandemic have been useful for Istanbul. The city ranked 3rd in the ‘Top 20 Cities with the highest number of visitors for entertainment’ survey prepared by the Spain-based business intelligence, travel, and tourism industry trends company.
Dubai took first place on the list, which assessed destinations in terms of measures accessibility, entrance restrictions, prices, entertainment venues, and services. Dubai was followed by Mexico’s Cancun, then Istanbul. In 2019, Istanbul was 7th on the list.
Thus, Istanbul overtook cities such as New York, Miami, Paris, Amsterdam, and London in 2021. These cities weren’t preferred due to the bans imposed, regulations to enter the countries, and restrictions.
The share of tourists for entertainment hovered around 1-3% of the total number of visitors, according to the survey.