Russian lawmaker blames Erdogan for tourism losses due to worsening relations with Russia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created problems for Turkey’s tourism industry by falling out with Russia, first deputy chairman of Russian Federation Council’s Committee on defense and security Frants Klintsevich told journalists on Monday. Commenting on the article in the Wall Street Journal that says that Turkey’s tourism industry is suffering big losses because of deteriorating relations with Russia and growing terrorist activities, Klintsevich said that it was possible to predict problems in the Turkish tourism industry before the tourism season opened. ‘I think that losses will be even more considerable at the start of the next year when final results will be summed up," he added noting that "there is absolutely no malevolence" in his words. "This is not our choice. Problems for Turkey’s tourism industry were created by President Recep Erdogan himself," Klintsevich said adding that Turkish people say Erdogan damaged such a lucrative business. The Wall Street Journal wrote on Monday that "a string of terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic State or Kurdish militants, on top of a diplomatic feud with Russia, are battering Turkey’s vibrant tourism industry." "Last year, revenues contracted for the first time since 2010, shrinking 8% to $31.5 billion," WSJ said adding that "tourism revenues in January fell at an even faster pace, dropping 19% from a year earlier, according to central-bank data released March 10." "Bookings for this summer are down 40% from last year, and hotel occupancy rates have plunged more than half, according to industry figures. Hundreds of hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and boutique resorts have been put up for sale," WSJ added. Relations between Russia and Turkey hit a low after the incident on 24 November 2015 when a Turkish F-16 fighter jet brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, which, Ankara alleges, violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace. Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations. Putin said Ankara’s attack against the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, was a "stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices. On 28 November 2015 Putin signed a decree recommending Russia tour operators to refrain from selling tours to Turkey and tasking the Russian government with taking measures on banning charter flights between the two countries.