Turkey to Offer Fuel Subsidies to Safeguard Tourism

An attack last week on Turkey's tourist district of Sultanahmet (as seen in this January 15 photograph) left 10 Germans tourists dead. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

FRANKFURT, Jan 20 – Turkey will offer jet fuel subsidies for flights to five of its tourist hot spots as part of its efforts to safeguard tourism revenue after a suicide bombing in Istanbul last week killed 10 German tourists.

Airlines will receive $6,000 per flight to Antalya, Alanya, Dalaman, Bodrum and Izmir during the start of the tourism season in April and May, Turkey’s tourism minister, Mahir Unal, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Coming after anti-government protests and small-scale attacks by leftist militants, and alongside the threat of a violent spillover from an insurgency in the largely Kurdish southeast, the Istanbul bombing is seen posing perhaps the greatest threat so far to Turkey’s vital tourism industry, which accounts for about 4.5 percent of the $800 billion economy.

“The only problem is with the Syrian border area,” Unal said. “Istanbul is one of the safest places in the world… The tourist areas are safe… We have taken all the measures necessary,” Unal said.

Turkey offered similar fuel subsidies for flights from Russia last year, after a slump in the value of the rouble prompted consumers to hold off spending money on travel abroad.

Russians accounted for about 10 percent of foreigners arriving in Turkey in January through November last yearmaking Russia the country’s second-biggest source country after Germany with 5.4 million travellers or 15.5 percent of arrivals.

In addition to the new fuel subsidy unveiled on Wednesday, which could be extended beyond May, Turkey has tripled its security measures in tourist areas, according to Unal.

He was speaking in Frankfurt, where he was meeting with German tour operators to discuss joint measures to prop up tourist demand, such as promotional campaigns that would be half paid for by Turkey and half by the tourism companies.

He said he was also meeting with tour operators in Spain and Switzerland.

Tour operator TUI’s Chief Executive Fritz Joussen already said last week that customers appeared to be more cautious on bookings to Turkey’s beach resorts following the suicide bombing in Istanbul.

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