Turkey remains top vacation spot for Russian tourists

Turkey remains top vacation spot for Russian tourists

Even though Russian tourists go on vacation to many countries, Turkey remains the top destination for them due to the price and quality balance, the head of Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturizm) Oleg Safonov said, adding that the number of Russians coming to the country will further increase in the last two months of the year.

As Daily Sabah writes in an article "Turkey remains top vacation spot for Russian tourists", Safonov said that Turkey is leading the way among countries preferred by Russian holidaymakers. "They are also going on holiday to countries such as Greece, Spain and Thailand, but Turkey is always in the first place [they choose] for the harmony of price and quality," he added.

Following Turkey's downing a Russian SU-24 fighter jet in late November 2015, Russia imposed a range of unilateral sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on food imports, an end to visa-free travel and calls for tourists to stop visiting Turkey. Two weeks ago, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that Russia may reinstate its visa-free travel policy for Turkish citizens. Meanwhile, often called Turkey's tourism capital, Antalya was visited by about 444,507 Russian tourists from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31 last year, but saw a 724 percent increase, with around 3.66 million Russians coming in the same period this year out of the nearly 9.5 million tourists who came to Antalya, according to the Antalya Airport Administrative Authority. Russian tourists visiting the city in the said period constituted 63 percent of the total number of tourists. In October, Antalya welcomed around 361,251 Russians, an increase of 96 percent when compared to the same month last year when around 183,000 Russian tourists arrived. Russian tourists constituted 36.7 percent of all tourists in October.

Previously, Erkan Yağcı, chairman of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB), said Antalya will have welcomed about 4 million Russian tourists by the end of the year. Yağcı also said this year's tourism season is better than last year's, stressing that they have achieved a growth rate of 60 percent when compared to last year in Antalya, exceeding the figures of 2016. Yağcı also added that this year's figures are closer to those of 2014-2015, the best years of tourism for the area.

"We will have welcomed nearly 4 million Russian tourists in Antalya by the end of the year," Yağcı said, noting that this figure will be around 5 million for Turkey as a whole. Suggesting that the Russian market is looking up, Yağcı said: "2014 was the best year in the Russian market. We will exceed the 2014 figures in 2017. This is a pleasing development."