Russian tourists' pause blow to Turkish economy

GMT 17:49 2015 Saturday ,28 November

Arab Today, arab today Russian tourists' pause blow to Turkish economy

Turkish economy
Washington - MENA

Russia's effective ban on tourist travel to Turkey in retaliation for the downing of one of its jets by Turkish F-16s this week will reverberate far beyond a Kremlin-themed hotel on the Antalya coast, Bloomberg said Saturday.

Turkey is the most popular foreign destination for Russians, with 3.3 million making the trip in the first nine months of this year. They make up more than 10 percent of the tourists in Turkey, the second-highest number after Germany.

Selling tours to Turkey would be a "blatant violation" of Russian laws, according to the Federal Tourism Agency, and while there are no plans to evacuate as many as 11,000 Russian tourists already in the country, about 6,000 who've booked tours for coming weeks will need to change their plans.

Tourism accounted for $21 billion of income for Turkey in the nine months to September, and plays a key role in keeping the sizable gap in the current-account under control.

Prior to this week, the deficit-to-GDP ratio was expected to fall to 5 percent this year from 5.8 percent in 2014 and 8 percent a year earlier, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

The deficit is important because Turkey's economy is vulnerable to shifts in investor sentiment toward emerging markets as the US Federal Reserve prepares to increase the cost of lending, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, an analyst at London Capital Group.

In order to narrow it, Turkey introduced restrictions on consumer credit two years ago to cool domestic demand, and subsequently saw the economy slow, too.

"Turkey's tourism industry has already been shaken by growing geopolitical tensions," Ozkardeskaya said. "Cancellations from Russians can reverse the recent improvement in the current-account gap."

The impact goes beyond the official tourism numbers. The amount of Turkey's foreign-exchange revenue associated with Russian tourists and the unregistered trade they facilitate is higher than $6 billion per year, or just over 0.8 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Add to that Turkish exports through official channels and Russia-related income rises to 1.4 percent of GDP, Erkin Isik, a strategist at Turk Ekonomi Bankasi AS in Istanbul, said on Thursday.

Turkish assets were already slumping amid the conflict in neighboring Syria and the collapse of a three-year long truce with the Kurdish militant group PKK. The lira is the third-worst performing emerging-market currency this year after the real and the Colombian peso while two-year notes are the second-worst, Bloomberg concluded.

Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
arabtoday arabtoday arabtoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabs, Arab, Arab