The Turkish lira has dropped 35 percent over the past year, and tariffs recently announced by the Trump administration don’t bode well for the troubled currency. Though the lira has fluctuated in recent days, at one point it hit record lows against the United States dollar, setting off a panic over a potential domino effect that could reach other emerging markets.
It was more bad news for a country that had only just begun to rebound from a horrific period of terrorism, including in the city’s shopping district.
The wave of attacks crippled the nation’s tourism sector, and a bloody failed, followed by a widespread crackdown, political instability and diplomatic rows with the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, all served to further alarm potential Western visitors. Tourism from the United States dipped more than 40 percent from 2015 to 2017, part of a plunge that saw visitor numbers to the country sag about 30 percent.
In May, the announced that visitor numbers were rebounding in 2018 — although the face of tourism to the Anatolian Peninsula looks decidedly different. Into the vacuum have come more and more holidaymakers from Russia, Asia and the Middle East, who have found Turkey — with its battered economy and cultural bounty — a newly affordable destination.
Indeed, the exchange rate might lure some visitors. Even before the recent crisis, the average rate for a hotel room in Turkey in April 2017 stood at 67.4 euro, still a long ways off from its average of April 2015, which stood at 105 euro.
Firuz B. Baglikaya, the president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, said that tourism growth over the past year has broken all records, and he is optimistic about continued growth from all parts of the world, including Europe.
“We are utterly pleased to see tangible improvement in all source markets,” he said. “We are expecting a record number of visitors this year. I am quite certain that we will reach the target of 40 million with $32 billion revenue by the end of the year, unless developments beyond our control have a negative deteriorating impact.”
The steady pace of new visitors has kept the hotel industry in Turkey chugging along, with the Hotel Association of Turkey reporting occupancy rates in 2017 spiking over 2016, in large part thanks to the changing demographic of visitors. The Hilton Hotel group, which has 90 properties either open in Turkey or in the works across its Hilton, Conrad, Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree and Hampton brands, reported a 62 percent rise in the number of rooms occupied by guests from Iran and nations in the Persian Gulf alone.