FURKAN – Russian visitors to Turkey decline in November amid free-falling ruble

Russian visitors to Turkey decline in November amid free-falling rubleIn a highly expected development, Russian tourists visiting Turkey registered an 18.45 percent decrease year-on-year in November, as a result of a plunging Russian ruble against the US dollar, worrying the countryand#39s tourism industry whose 2015 summer revenues could be damaged as Russians are the second-largest national group visiting Turkey as tourists.

The deputy chairman of Russiaand#39s Association of Tour Operators (ATOR), Maya Lomidze, said this week that the number of Russians travelling abroad slumped by around 40-50 percent compared to last year Lomidze maintained that Greece, Spain and Thailand were among the countries that had been worst affected. Though Russian visitors to Turkey showed a slight rise in the January- November period of this year compared to the corresponding figure a year ago, a recent statement released by Turkeyand#39s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Tuesday announced an 18.

45 percent decline in Russian arrivals to the country in November Russian citizens are less likely to travel to Turkey and contribute to tourism revenues since the ruble fell.Turkey hosts some 35 million tourists every year, of which 42 million come from Russia, spending around $4-5 billion in Turkey.

Nevertheless, falling demand ahead of summer, the busiest season in terms of the number of visitors to Turkey, raises concerns over whether Russian woes will jeopardize Turkish tourism revenues in the summer of 2015 as well.Government officials from Russia stated on Thursday that the currency crisis in Russia was over despite the risk of inflation, which is likely to surpass 10 percent.

Previous statements made by Russiaand#39s president, Vladimir Putin, that the economic difficulties in Russia could last at least two years have been enough to worry Turkey about the risk of a contraction in tourism revenues.The US and the EU have imposed various sanctions on Russia, targeting the countryand#39s economy and finances in retaliation for its annexation of Crimea in March.

Though Russia responded to this move in August by banning the import of Western food products, the Russian economy, which had been experiencing a slowdown since 2012, has been further battered by plummeting global oil prices. According to the Russian Ministry of Finance, the falling oil prices have cost the country $90-100 billion annually.

Russia is the worldand#39s second largest exporter of oil and depends on energy sales for around half of its budget revenue.The price of Brent Crude has plunged from $115 to $60 per barrel over the last six months, and the ruble has depreciated about 40 percent against the dollar since January.

SOURCE: The East African