Mideast tourism to Turkey down after string of terror attacks

Turkey remains one of the top destinations for Muslim travelers due to its rich culture and history. (Reuters)
Updated 04 January 2017

Mideast tourism to Turkey down after string of terror attacks

JEDDAH: Turkey’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the string of terror attacks across the country, with the number of flight reservations from the Middle East for early 2017 down an estimated 16 percent.
The nightclub shooting rampage in Istanbul, in which 39 people were killed, is the latest of several Daesh-linked attacks in the country.
The UAE on Monday warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey in the wake of the New Year’s Day attack.
Olivier Jager, chief executive of travel intelligence firm ForwardKeys, said that terror attacks are having an impact on wider Middle Eastern tourism to Turkey.
“Tourism to both Istanbul and Turkey as a whole have suffered from repeated terrorist attacks in 2016,” he said.
ForwardKeys, which is based in Valencia, analyzes 16 million flight-reservation transactions a day.
Its data show that arrivals to Turkey by air during the past year fell by 21 percent. Travelers from the Middle East had been “less deterred”, with arrivals down 6 percent, Jager said.
But the picture is looking different when it comes to forward bookings for travel to Istanbul and Turkey over the first three months of 2017.
Middle East forward bookings are 18 percent behind for Istanbul and 16 percent lower for Turkey as a whole, implying that more people are choosing to stay away. The global average is down by 22 percent. Tourism authorities in Turkey did not respond to a request for comment by Arab News.
“We know that terrorist attacks deter tourists, but tourism recovers over time. However, repeated attacks push back a possible recovery period,” Jager told Arab News.
“Unfortunately for Turkey, the New Year’s Eve nightclub attack is likely to continue to fuel concerns about the safety of the destination.”
Jager cautioned that the outlook may not be as negative as the figures suggest, as there “is a general trend towards booking later and particularly so after a terrorist incident”.
“It might take a week or so before we are able to fully size the real impact of this attack on inbound travel to Turkey,” he said.
Twenty-five of those killed at the Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus were foreigners, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
They included nationals of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, Libya, Israel, India, Canada, a Turkish-Belgian dual citizen and a Franco-Tunisian woman.
Fazal Bahardeen, the chief executive of CrescentRating — an authority on halal-friendly travel — said such incidents are bound to have an impact in the short- to medium-term.
“Safety is the single most (important) consideration of especially family leisure travelers,” he said.
“Having said that, Turkey remains one of the top destinations for Muslim travelers due to its rich culture and history,” he added.
“As such Turkey, while improving its security issues, needs to look at ways to promote to diverse markets including a much concerted effort to lure the Muslim travel market. The Muslim travelers will be one of the markets that they can rely on to quickly turn around as the security concerns decrease.”
Rafi-uddin Shikoh, the New York-based chief executive and managing director of DinarStandard, a research and advisory firm that covers Muslim tourism and Islamic finance, pointed to the latest official tourism data, prior to the recent attacks, which was already showing a decline in tourists to Turkey.
But Turkey’s ability to cater for Muslim travelers, as measured in rankings, is actually on the rise, he added.
“Our latest analysis... showed a dip in Muslim tourists to Turkey, however Turkey’s ranking in the Muslim travel market strengthened. In the latest Halal Travel Indicator of The State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report, Turkey’s ranking improved even as the actual number of Muslim tourists to Turkey had decreased.”
HalalBooking.com, which was founded in 2009 and is based in Reading in the UK, says that it is seeing more bookings for travel to Turkey.
Ufuk Seçgin, the chief marketing officer of HalalBooking.com, acknowledged it was a “difficult year” for general tourism to Turkey, given issues like the Syrian crisis and coup attempt. But he said that the halal-friendly tourism segment had fared better.
“At HalalBooking.com we doubled our revenue,” he said, in reference to 2016 business. He estimates that about 90 percent of the company’s bookings are to Turkish beach resorts.
“Our customers are more resilient, they can distinguish… which parts of Turkey are affected and which are not affected. And they are not scare-mongered like the general public.”
Seçgin said it was difficult to say what the fallout from the Istanbul attack would be on the tourism industry as a whole.
“The whole tourist sector is obviously very nervous, because we don’t know what the impact will be,” he said.


Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

Updated 06 December 2019

Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

  • Falls in factory output, jobs and retail add to fears of worsening slowdown after Tokyo unveils $122bn stimulus package

TOKYO: Japanese households cut their spending for the first time in almost a year in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to rein in expenses and natural disasters disrupted business.

Household spending dropped 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.

It is the first fall in household spending in 11 months and the biggest fall since March 2016 when spending fell by 5.3 percent. It was also weaker than the median forecast for a 3 percent decline.

That marked a sharp reversal from the 9.5 percent jump in September, the fastest growth on record as consumers rushed to buy goods before the Oct. 1 sales tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent.

“Not only is the sales tax hike hurting consumer spending but impacts from the typhoon also accelerated the decline in the spending,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

“We expect the economy overall and consumer spending will contract in the current quarter and then moderately pick up January-March, but such recovery won't be strong enough.”

Household spending fell by 4.6 percent in April 2014 when Japan last raised the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. It took more than a year for the sector to return to growth.

Compared with the previous month, household spending fell 11.5 percent in October, the fastest drop since April 2014, a faster decline than the median 9.8 percent forecast.

Analysts said a powerful typhoon in October, which lashed swathes of Japan with heavy rain, also played a factor in the downbeat data. Some shops and restaurants closed during the storm and consumers stayed home.

Separate data also showed the weak state of the economy.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which consists of a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales data, fell a preliminary 5.6 points to 94.8 in October from the previous month, the lowest reading since February 2013, the Cabinet Office said on Friday.

It was also the fastest pace of decline since March 2011, according to the data.

Real wages adjusted for inflation, meanwhile, edged up for a second straight month in October, but the higher levy and weak global economy raise worries about the prospect for consumer spending and the overall economy.

While the government has sought to offset the hit to consumers through vouchers and tax breaks, there are fears the higher tax could hurt an economy already feeling the pinch from global pressures.

Japan unveiled a $122 billion fiscal package on Thursday to support stalling growth and as policymakers look to sustain activity beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A recent spate of weak data, such as exports and factory output, have raised worries about the risk of a sharper-than-expected slowdown. The economy grew by an annualized 0.2 percent in the third quarter, the weakest pace in a year.

Analysts expect the economy to shrink in the current quarter due to the sales tax hike.