Yesterday's attack in Turkey has again made Israelis more fearful about traveling to a country that once headed the list of popular destinations for the country's tourists. "There is no doubt that this attack is likely to reverse the upward trend in tourism to Turkey in recent years," ISSTA Lines (TASE: ISTA) VP marketing Ronen Carasso said.
"Tourism to Turkey increased by 35% in 2015, following very difficult years," he added. "A total of 240,000 people flew to Turkey last year, and we had hoped for a further increase for the Passover holiday. This is, of course, still far from the number of people who flew before the Mavi Marmara incident."
A number of cancelations were already recorded this morning, following yesterday's terrorist attack in Istanbul, which killed three Israelis and injured many others. "It appears that Israeli travelers in the end think about themselves and their sense of security, and whether or not it will be enjoyable for them to go there," Carasso explained. "This attack comes on top of last week's attack, and the most recent one is obviously having a greater effect."
Estimate: 20% of vacations will be canceled
Carasso estimates that the attacks in Turkey will lead to the cancelation of 20-30% of the flights and vacation packages already ordered. "If information is revealed that the attack was aimed specifically against Israelis, I assume that the proportion of cancelations will rise still further," he added.
According to Tamar Gerzon, CEO of tourism price comparison website Travelist, "As soon as the terrorist attack was reported, online searches for Turkey dropped 15%, compared with the preceding Saturday. Searches specifically for Istanbul were down more steeply - by over 22%."
Nevertheless, it is premature to determine the effect on tourism to Turkey during the upcoming Passover holiday. "Before the attacks, Anatolia was considered a popular destination - among the 10 leading destinations for Passover," Gerzon explained.
Gulliver Tourism CEO Ziv Rozen even argued, "Cancelations and a some decline occur after every such event, but as time passes, the effect of the event subsides, as happened following the attacks in Paris, for example."
"I think that most customers are mainly waiting to see how it goes. If it gets worse, there's no doubt that they will look for other sunny destinations, and stay away from Turkey," Rozen stated. "Keep in mind that Israelis have found alternatives in recent years, mainly Greece."
"Israelis distinguish between cities and clubs"
"Already on Saturday, shortly after the terrorist attack, we began to receive calls from customers who had bought seats on flights to Turkey," said Daka 90 group Deputy CEO Dana Lavi. "We're not seeing an enormous number of cancellations, however. People are finding out what will happen to their flight, and are trying find out what the possibilities are. For example, the Pegasus low-cost Turkish company announced that anyone who bought a ticket in the past two days is entitled to cancel it at no cost whatsoever."
"I assume that there will be an effect in the short term," Lavi continued. "Israelis are waiting to see what happens. Customers are also capable of distinguishing between Istanbul and Ankara and the clubs in Anatolia and Kemer, where they have felt more comfortable in the past six months, after a long period of almost no travelers."
Various agencies have noticed an increase in demand in recent week ahead of the Passover holiday for various clubs in Turkey, but they also are still finding it difficult to assess the effect so far of the terrorist attack. If things remain relatively calm, it is believed that the trend will more or less revert to what it was before the attack.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 20, 2016
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016