Tourism’s future

Tour sm today and tomorrow

Dünya Executive - - COVER PAGE - By Alaattin Aktas

Industry experts express their hopes and fears in an anonymous survey

In an electronic survey, tourism profession­als expressed their hopes and frustratio­ns about one of Turkey’s key industries, which is broadly relevant to

the economy. 1

Freedom of expression

The results of the electronic voting held at the 8th Internatio­nal Resort Tourism Congress, organized jointly by the Mediterran­ean Touristic Hoteliers and Operators Associatio­n (AKTOB) and Ekin Group, are important in terms of showing the true views of tourism profession­als. It is not possible to give everyone the right to speak at the congress. Even if such a right can be granted, it may not be easy for people to express their real thoughts in front of politician­s and bureaucrat­s. However, with anonymous voting, thoughts are more readily verbalized, giving an opportunit­y for profession­als to get their grievances off their chests.

2

European tourists are back

This year, the November occupancy rate topped rates in recent years in all of the holiday villages where the congress was held. Overall, the occupancy rate for the was high but it was important that the trend continued in November as well. Generally, older Europeans filled the holiday villages. Sector representa­tives say that European tourists are back.

3

Occupancy rate reached 95 percent

AKTOB Chairman Dr. Erkan Yagci pointed out that Antalya can host 20 million tourists a year and it is possible to max out to this figure by increasing the occupancy rate of the November-April period. According to Yagci, occupancy over this summer season reached 90-95 percent. Increasing the figure is now possible by continuing the high rate outside the summer season. 84 percent of respondent­s said that this year the occupancy rate increased. Surprising­ly, 8 percent stated that the occupancy rate fell more than 5 percent. In terms of income and expenditur­e increases, we see similar ratios, with a slight difference in favor of income.

4 Lending crunch hurting the industry

Money, which became very expensive this year, also affected the tourism sector’s credit usage. 46 percent of respondent­s said they did not use loans and 20 percent had restructur­ed. 17 percent wanted to use credit but could not find a loan. Another 17 percent said they used less credit. In 2019 the use of credit will increase, or at least the intent is in this direction. 38 per- cent said they will use loans while 34 percent said they would not. 20 percent said they would restructur­e their existing loans. 8 percent said that they have difficulty in finding a loan, implying that given an opportunit­y, they would secure one.

5

Regional instabilit­y decreasing

In the survey conducted last year, the most important problem for Turkish tourism was seen as developmen­ts in the region. This remains a top issue but its impact appears to have decreased. Last year, 78 percent of respondent­s said political developmen­ts in the region were the biggest problem while 57 percent expected political developmen­ts to remain the main problem in 2018. In this year’s survey, only 38 percent felt political developmen­ts had hurt the industry while 39 percent believe they will continue to be a problem in 2019.

6

Skills and inflation

More importantl­y this year, tourism profession­als who complained about a shortage of of qualified personnel increased to 36 percent and felt the problem will continue into 2019. In addition, nearly one quarter of survey respondent­s felt inflation will be a problem next year.

7

Exchange rate volatility

In last year’s survey, 33 percent of the tourism profession­als estimated the euro average for 2018 as 4.80-5.00, 47 percent as 5.00-5.20, and 15 percent as over 5.20 percent. The average of the euro in the first eleven months is 5.63. We should, however, forgive the sector for being so wrong. Who could have guessed the exchange rate correctly! For 2019, those who say the euro will be TRY 6 or lower is only 8 percent. The majority think that the rate will be between TRY 6 - 7.5. Meanwhile, 19 percent forecast a euro rate above 7.5 liras on a yearly basis.

8

Whither the state?

A majority of survey respondent­s were in agreement over the question of what is needed most to help the tourism industry. Last year, 46 percent of respondent­s said “state policy is needed.” This year, the rate rose to 53 percent. The sector obviously feels a shortage in this regard. Antalya welcomes 13 million foreign tourists annually, with a potential of 20 million. Its tourism-based contributi­on to the economy is bigger than many countries. But does the state really have a tourism policy? The result of the survey suggests the answer is no.

9

Hopes are set on Europe

Most respondent­s say they believe Russian tourists have reached a saturation point. In 2019, the percentage of those who expect an increase in the number of people coming from Russia is 62 percent. 21 percent expect a decrease. On the other hand, the percentage of those expecting an increase in the number of people coming from Europe is exactly 95 percent.

10

What about domestic tourism?

One of the questions posed in the survey was whether the industry has increased the domestic market quota for 2019. 15 percent said they have while 31 percent said they kept the quota the same as 2018. 55 percent of respondent­s said that they have reduced quota. This suggests that next year, resorts will become more expensive for local tourists.

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