UK-based Turk­ish tour op­er­a­tors seek Ankara’s sup­port

Dünya Executive - - REPORT -

UK -based Turk­ish tour op­er­a­tors have raised con­cerns over Bri­tish global travel group Thomas Cook’s col­lapse and are seek­ing ur­gent help from the Turk­ish govern­ment to avoid los­ing their mar­ket share.

The demise of the U.K.’s old­est travel agency has sent shock­waves across the in­dus­try world­wide, es­pe­cially in coun­tries like Turkey, which has ben­e­fit­ted from its travel pack­ages and in turn tourism rev­enues. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Thomas Cook, Turkey has been one of the top des­ti­na­tions for Bri­tons this sum­mer, with hol­i­day­mak­ers turn­ing their backs on des­ti­na­tions in the Euro­pean Union due to un­cer­tain­ties over Brexit.

The firm car­ried over one mil­lion tourists to Turkey in 2018, of which 620,000 were from Ger­many and 435,000 from the UK, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Mediter­ranean Touris­tic Hote­liers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. With the num­bers re­veal­ing the scale of the im­pact, the com­pany’s demise may have a neg­a­tive im­pact on Turkey’s tourism rev­enues. “If the Turk­ish govern­ment does not take ur­gent steps, UK-based Turk­ish travel agents may lose their mar­ket share fol­low­ing the tour op­er­a­tor’s col­lapse,” En­gin Ser­toglu, direc­tor of UK-based Caira Hol­i­days, told Anadolu Agency. “Turk­ish air com­pa­nies should play a part in get­ting UK-based Turk­ish travel agents out of this cri­sis by in­creas­ing flight ca­pac­ity. If there are no flights, there won’t be any tourists,” Ser­toglu said, not­ing the sys­tem in the UK will not al­low any travel com­pany to fill the gap after the col­lapse.

He said Turk­ish Air­lines should take the ini­tia­tive by of­fer­ing ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity char­ter planes, point­ing out that Thomas Cook was sup­posed to bring nearly 40,000 tourists to Turkey in Oc­to­ber. “By giv­ing ur­gent in­cen­tives, the [Turk­ish] govern­ment should sup­port Turk­ish travel firms op­er­at­ing in the UK so they can con­tinue to con­trib­ute to Turkey’s tourism,” he added.

Ibrahim Batk­i­tar, direc­tor of Com­fort Travel, said the Bri­tish travel gi­ant’s col­lapse may cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for small-scale travel agen­cies, not­ing that Thomas Cook was the sec­ond travel firm to go bank­rupt in three years. “Peo­ple don’t trust online book­ings any­more,” he said, adding they will opt to do busi­ness with travel com­pa­nies of­fer­ing ac­ces­si­ble staff and re­li­able cus­tomer ser­vices, which is more trust­wor­thy than the in­ter­net.

‘Thomas Cook owes

350 mil­lion eu­ros to Turkey’

Firuz Baglikaya, head of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Turk­ish Travel Agen­cies (TURSAB), said other tour op­er­a­tors could fill the gap in the sec­tor within 3-4 years by of­fer­ing the same ser­vices to con­sumers.

Thomas Cook’s bank­ruptcy in Ger­many, Bel­gium, the Nether­lands, Switzer­land, Aus­tria and Poland fol­low­ing the UK cre­ates an un­usual sit­u­a­tion for the sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by Turkey’s Tourism Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, which con­sists of lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions rep­re­sent­ing the tourism sec­tor. It said nearly two mil­lion tourists come to Turkey from these coun­tries per year.

The state­ment added that upon its col­lapse, Thomas Cook owed Turkey’s tourism sec­tor more than 350 mil­lion eu­ros (around $381 mil­lion). How­ever, it is im­pos­si­ble for this amount to be re­paid in the short­and medium-term, and that will put small busi­nesses in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, it added.

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