Following the suicide bombings at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on June 28 that killed 42 people and injured another 200, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered some respite to Turkey's already limping tourism industry. Putin announced that he would lift travel restrictions to Turkey.
The thaw in relations between Ankara and Moscow has been attributed to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's apology issued earlier this week for last year's shooting down of a Russian Air Force jet by Turkish forces. Airline shares surged immediately after the apology was issued but dipped again following the attack, and ultimately extended the Turkish Airlines' year-to-date stock losses to 21 percent.
The cancellation of Russian charter flights caused a fall in the number of Russian tourists — the second largest contributors to Turkey's tourism after Germany — by 91.8% in May this year as compared to the month last year, according to figures released by the Turkish ministry of tourism.
The eight deadly attacks on Turkish soil that have killed around 250 people over the last 9 months, have also crippled the country's tourism industry, which ordinarily earns close to 30 billion euros ($33.2 billion) in foreign currency each year. The industry that accounted for 5 percent of the Turkish Gross Domestic Product in 2015, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, has been forced to see its biggest drop in at least 22 years.
Tourist arrivals in May, which happens to be the peak tourist season in the country, fell for a record 10th month. They also plunged by 35 percent from the same month in 2015, after a 28-percent annual drop in April, according to a report by Bloomberg.
"We've got to nurse our wounds this year and look ahead to 2017," Basaran Ulusoy, the President of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, was quoted saying by Bloomberg. Ulusoy expects a 35-40 percent drop in income in 2016.
But numbers alone cannot adequately measure the impact on the tourism industry. For the many smaller stakeholders who rely on tourism for their livelihood, the situation is grimmer than it has ever been before.
"The country breathes because of tourists, we can't lose them," Aziz Yilmaz, who has worked in tourism for 23 years, was quoted as saying by Los Angeles Times.