Saudi tourists shun Turkey as sector feels the pinch

Saudi tourists shun Turkey as sector feels the pinch
The number of Saudi tourists visiting the country dropped by more than 28 percent in August compared with a year earlier. (Shutterstock)
Updated 02 October 2019

Saudi tourists shun Turkey as sector feels the pinch

Saudi tourists shun Turkey as sector feels the pinch
  • During the first eight months of 2019, the number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey fell by 19.7 percent on a year earlier

LONDON: Turkey has reported a sharp drop in tourists from Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf this year, according to government data.

The number of Saudi tourists visiting the country dropped by more than 28 percent in August compared with a year earlier, according to figures from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Arrivals from the UAE also fell by almost 16 percent over the same period.

During the first eight months of 2019, the number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey fell by 19.7 percent, while UAE tourists fell by 12.5 percent, compared with the year-earlier period. However, the country remained popular with visitors from Egypt and Israel, rising 24.6 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively, in the same period.

Saudi authorities have published a number of travel notices for its citizens visiting the country this year after some were targets of theft and fraud.

The loss of high-spending Gulf tourists comes as a major blow to the country’s battered tourism sector which has also been left reeling by the collapse of Thomas Cook, the UK tour operator that went bust last week. 

The decline in tourism from the Gulf has coincided with a retreat by Arab real estate investors according to Bulut Bagci, president of World Tourism Forum

“Arab tourists were coming to Turkey both for tourism and investment,” he said.

“Apart from diplomatic conflicts between KSA and Turkey, I think Arab tourists were dissatisfied when they noticed that the houses that they bought in Turkey incurred losses.”