Tourists grab luxuries after rout of lira
The lira’s plunge — which had been under way for weeks — was turned into a rout on Friday when US President Donald Trump tweeted that Washington was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey. The Turkish currency has since clawed back some ground.
Xenos Lemis, a tourist from Cyprus, said he had been following the currency drama. “We check the price of the lira every two hours and there is a significant change. So shopping for a tourist, this is a blessing.”
But some visitors lamented that they also lost money when they converted a large sum of foreign money to the Turkish currency just before the crisis broke. “I’m quite surprised because I took a lot of cash from the bank in lira and when I woke up in the morning I found out that I almost lost [the equivalent of] one hundred or two hundred during one night,” Kobe Wu Kejia, a Chinese tourist, said.
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Turkey’s tourism sector has begun to recover in 2018. It has managed to diversify its appeal, with sharp rises in the numbers of visitors from countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Tourism from Europe has also revived.
Meanwhile, Russian tourism — critical for the economy on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast — has sprung back to life after being devastated by a political crisis between Ankara and Moscow in 2015.
Firuz Baglikaya, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, said there was a 30% increase in tourism in Turkey compared with 2017.
“We expect a $32bn foreign currency inflow. We have a target of having 40-million tourists since 2017 and if there’s nothing negative this objective will be achieved.”
Package holiday giant Thomas Cook said earlier in August, before the lira crisis struck in earnest, that bookings for Turkey have increased 63% from 2017.