The consequences of the earthquake in southern Turkey and the frightening forecasts of seismologists have led to panic reaching Istanbul: tourists from all over the world are massively canceling tours (read more here). As a result, “fears that an “earthquake will happen” even without an earthquake itself have already undermined the tourism sector,” according to Turkish media.
According to the forecasts of representatives of the tourism sector, the number of tourists expected to arrive in Istanbul in 2023 may decrease to 8 million. According to Ramazan Bingöl, president of the Association of Restaurants and Tourism (TÜRES), immediately after the earthquake on February 6, restaurant occupancy alone decreased by 50-70%. “Forecasts that an earthquake will inevitably occur in Istanbul are largely to blame for this. There have been major cancellations of bookings due to the panic they created,” the expert said. According to him, in February, hotel reservations were canceled by 30-40% of tourists. “If this continues, tourism revenues will seriously decline in March, April and May,” he added. By the way, the crisis in the sales of food and beverages, according to him, also actually occurred due to the fact that a significant part of the foreign tourists who were supposed to come to Turkey did not come.
Yuksel Turemez, Chairman of the Board of the TÜRSAB Regional Office in Istanbul and the Bosphorus, presented a similar assessment. “Given the expected decline in the number of tourists arriving in Istanbul due to the earthquake, it is expected that tourism revenues will decrease by 30-40% during the year. The number of tourists coming to Istanbul may decrease to 8 million,” he said. Before the earthquake, at least 14 million tourists were expected to arrive in Istanbul.
“We will see a net loss of bookings for Turkey at the ITB show in Berlin on March 7-9. But undoubtedly, the earthquake and the expectation of an earthquake in Istanbul will have the most negative impact on tourism,” he said.
It should be noted that in this situation there is also a small plus for tourists: hotels in Istanbul can reduce prices in order to withstand the expected loss of tourists. “If it can be seen that a significant audience is willing to come, hotels may try to make up for the loss by lowering prices. There may be some price volatility to prevent a decline in tourist arrivals. Average prices for rooms can be reduced from 100 euros to 80 euros,” Mr. Turemez estimated.
We also recall one of the forecasts of seismologists regarding Istanbul. “Although the situation in Istanbul has not changed as a result of the latest quakes in the southeast, the risk to the metropolis as a whole is as high as in the currently affected region. The average return period for a strong earthquake in Istanbul is 250 years, and the last major earthquake occurred in 1766, so the next one is long overdue,” Marco Bonhoff from the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam told the German press. It is difficult to make a forecast with an accuracy of a year, but the probability is extremely high that the area of the popular city is threatened by a strong earthquake in the next few years or decades. Read his forecast in this material.
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