Even though Turkey is geographically far from the Israel-Hamas conflict, its tourism sector is not immune to its consequences.
Tourists have stopped booking new trips to Turkey. The war in Gaza is deterring Turkey’s tourism bookings.
“I had a lot of requests in September, and now they’re kind of quiet,” said Alper Ertubey, founder of Hike n’ Sail Turkey. He’s had some travelers postpone their trips.
Turkey tourism bookings for next year have weakened. New bookings for 2024 for Road Scholar have fallen “pretty close to flat,” said a spokesperson.
“Not necessarily cancellations are rising, just people aren’t booking,” said Yves Marceau, vice president of G Adventures. Tourists are booking trips elsewhere, he said.
Many travelers don’t feel comfortable being in the region, said Kelly Torrens, vice president of product for Kensington Tours.
Jacada Travel has had “a few clients consider cancelling,” said Founder Alex Malcom. The tour operator explained the situation and made them feel comfortable about the trip.
Turkey isn’t the only destination to see a drop in tourism bookings. Tourists canceled their bookings to Egypt.
Turkey, a Destination Rising in Popularity
This year, Turkey has seen one of the fastest post-pandemic tourism recoveries in Europe, according to the European Travel Commission.
The country welcomed over 50.2 million international tourists in 2022, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. That was close to the 51.2 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019
For G Adventures, Turkey was consistently one of its top 20 destinations with clients every week, said Marcaeu.
The drop in international demand hits Turkey at an inconvenient time. November to January is the top season for booking travel. If forward bookings continue to remain weak, tour operators will have to trim their inventory in Turkey, said Marceau.
“Hopefully sales will come back in more in January and February for travel next fall,” said Kensington’s Torrens. “Guides could have very little work from the U.S. market for quite a period of time. Hopefully other markets keep them moderately busy.”
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Photo credit: Büyük Mecidiye Mosque (Ortaköy Mosque) Istanbul, Turkey Michael Jerrard / Unsplash