Turkey trims down vacation prices after recent spat with Israel


Following the recent crisis between Ankara and Tel Aviv, travel agents predict that holiday package prices to Turkey will drop by tens of percentage points in an effort to convince Israeli tourists to visit the country.

Unofficial data, cited by the ynetnews.com website, showed that the number of Israeli tourists who vacationed in Turkey last year dropped by 40 per cent compared to 2008, which set an all-time record in the Turkish tourism industry with 500,000 Israelis coming the country.

The sharp drop in the number of Israelis coming to Turkey last year, according to the publication, moved the country to second position, after the US, in the destinations favored by Israelis.

Turkey’s tourism industry, however, aims to regain the Israeli market. “Turkey is the destination which provides the best value for money, and this is what Israelis are looking for,” a senior travel agent told the publication. “It’s clear that this year, during the Passover holiday, the prices of vacations in Turkey will be cheaper than in previous years. The Turks will not want to completely miss out on tourism from Israel and it will be easier for them to offer low prices, as Passover takes place at the end of March, when the occupancy at Turkish holiday resorts is relatively low.”

Although it is still relatively early to assess the immediate effects of the break down in relations between the two countries on tourism, it seems that Israelis haven’t completely given up Turkey as a tourist destination.

“Last year in January there was a war in Gaza and the economic crisis was at its peak, so people avoided going on vacation. This year January is a better month, at least in terms of the reservations made for Turkey. Nonetheless, the reservations and departures of the first two weeks of the months did not reflect the escalation in the crisis,” a leading travel agent offering vacation packages for Turkey told the publication.

Other tourism industry sources noted that the price and the value will determine what will happen on the Israel-Turkey line, and not one crisis or another.

According to the newspaper Today’s Zaman, however, the significant drop in Israeli tourists has been compensated by an influx of Arab tourists from the Middle East, who – according to the publication, are more likely to venture out of their hotels and spend more than Israelis, who favor all-inclusive packages.