Turkey’s tourism industry struggles as Russian visitors face sanctions

Turkey’s tourism industry is feeling the impact of sanctions on Moscow, as Russian tourists face barriers when traveling to the country.

The Mediterranean country’s economy is highly dependent on foreign visitors, with 2.2 million Russian tourists entering the country in the first seven months of 2022.

Nico Valdez, owner of a fish restaurant on the shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, says his business is one of the places facing challenges this year.

We have big issues [with their credit cards]. “The Russians come to the restaurant, they have credit cards…but they don’t work,” said Nico Valdez, the owner of the restaurant.

I am not happy, and my guests are not happy. For the Russian people, this is difficult. ”

As Russian tourists continue to come to Turkey, the European Union is toughening rules against them after the Ukrainian government urged the bloc and G7 nations to impose a visa ban.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry did not respond to Euronews’ requests for comment on whether Ankara should do the same.

Turkey played a unique role in the war, providing drones to Ukraine while maintaining a cordial relationship with the Kremlin, especially financial ties.

Soaring inflation curbs Erdogan’s popularity

For Valdis, Russians account for about half of his work.

“We have a very bad economy, but the Russian tourists who come here mean we can make money, which is good,” he said.

It was reported that several yachts owned by Russian oligarchs docked in Turkey after Western sanctions against Moscow.

For example, a yacht believed to be owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Kamenchik is docked on the famous southern coast of Turkey.

The United States warned in August that there was a risk of Turkish companies being sanctioned if they worked with sanctioned Russians.

Ankara dismissed the concerns, saying it would improve trade with its neighbors while not violating sanctions.

Any business that Turkey can get is vital to its beleaguered economy, which is now officially seeing an inflation rate of more than 80% – which has put a huge pressure on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity.

Economist Can Selcuki said tourism revenue is particularly important this season as Erdogan is set to face his toughest elections next year.

“Considering the macro economy in Turkey at the moment and the dire need for any kind of currency exchange in Turkey, I would say that Russian tourists are very important,” said Seljuki.

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