Tourist numbers down in Turkey

Number of Russians, Germans and British tourists visiting Turkey are down in 2016, affecting Turkey’s medical tourism market.

Far fewer Russians, Germans and British are going to Turkey in 2016, and this will reduce medical tourism numbers. It will be difficult to know the effect, as Turkey numbers have always been contentious.

For the first 4 months of 2016, Russian visitor numbers are down 80% and total numbers are down 16.5 %. The next few months are when most tourists, health tourists and medical tourists go to Turkey so summer figures will be crucial.

For April alone, total arrivals are down 28%, the biggest fall since 1999, according to data from the Tourism Ministry. The number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey declined by 79.2 %, the number of arrivals from Germany dropped by 35% and British numbers are down 24%.

The main sources for medical tourism were Russia, UK, Germany and other European countries- so although there are no actual medical tourism figures, it is highly probable that medical tourism is suffering as badly, or even worse.

The oil crisis means that numbers from the Gulf are not increasing, while political tensions have drastically cut numbers from Libya. Visitors are still coming from Iran, Georgia and Bulgaria.

There are significant decreases in hotel and hospital occupancy rates across Turkey, particularly in Istanbul “Rising security concerns have hit. As bombings targeting tourists continue, many countries have issued security warnings about Turkey, leading to a decrease in foreign arrivals. Security in cities has increased, with increased military and police presence, leading to a palpable tension that tourists do not like.

UK bookings to destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey went down by up to 50 % so far this year .The constant terrorist threats and refugee crisis have led to a significant decrease in tourism to North Africa and the near East.

The date from the Office for National Statistics and the World Travel and Tourism Council shows the numbers of British citizens travelling to Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey have seriously declined.

The recent crash of an EgyptAir passenger plane in strange circumstances contributes to the general security-related opinions over the area. Tunisia has suffered the most dramatic impact of terrorism on tourism, as visits from the UK fell by 40% in 2015, with a 90% drop in British visitors in the first part of 2016.

Travel agents report that Turkey is visibly affected by the civil war in Syria and the refugee crisis that also hit Europe. Bookings for Turkish holidays are down by a third, when compared to last year.

Portugal, Spain, Italy, Barbados, Mexico and Morocco are seen as tourist destinations nowhere near the trouble zones with low levels of terrorist threat and getting more British tourists.

Affected countries have tried to get official warnings removed, but the reaction of The Foreign Office is typical; “The safety of British nationals is our only concern.”

Some people try to argue that just because tourist numbers fall, medical tourist numbers may not. But evidence over the last decade is that medical tourism closely follows travel patterns of where people go or avoid.

So who are the main countries that may get medical tourists who seek new safe countries? Many of the countries that tourists are moving to are not geared up for European medical tourists, with the exception of Spain, which is likely to be the main beneficiary. The other option is that medical tourists will simply stay at home and seek out the best price deals.