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Istanbul bomb could mean travel restrictions for Brits
Posted on 13/01/2016

SecurityTurkey

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Yesterday's fatal explosion in central Istanbul could trigger a chain of travel restrictions from the country's main tourist markets, according to a senior analyst at Euromonitor.

A senior Euromonitor analyst has said that countries are likely to impose more stringent restrictions on travel to Turkey, after an explosion in the centre of Istanbul left many tourists dead. Of the 10 people killed, most were German citizens, along with another nine of the 15 people injured.

Explosion in tourist district

Explosion in tourist district
Wiki Commons

Though much of major media has been blocked at the scene, the latest reports say that a suspected IS bomber was responsible for the explosion. They say that the Syrian national carried out the attack in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, not far from the Blue Mosque.

Senior analyst at Euromonitor International Kinda Chebib said that such an attack on Istanbul's most prominent tourist attraction would likely impact negatively on visitor numbers to Turkey.

"The fact that the explosion occurred in the deep centre of Istanbul and that tourists from Germany and Norway were among the casualties is expected to result in further travel restrictions and flights banned towards the destination in the coming days," she said. "Indeed, major source European markets are very likely to take preventive measures so as to protect their citizens traveling to the popular outbound market."

So far the British Foreign Office has not changed its overall travel advice for Turkey, warning only that those in the area should follow the advice of local authorities. The German government is also yet to issue formal restrictions, though new advice urges citizens to stay away from crowded areas in the capital.

Turkey's tourism industry is already struggling after the Russian government urged its citizens to boycott the country after one of its fighter jets was shot down by Turkish forces over the Syrian border. Currently, Germany is Turkey's largest tourism market, followed closely by what was a fast-growing Russian market. The UK is its third largest market.

"Despite major media being blocked at the scene, tourism industry in Turkey is predicted to suffer from the recurrent attacks on tourist spots those past years," said Chebib. "The country was already on alert after 103 people were killed last October when two suicide bombers attached a group of activists in Ankara.

"Visa allowances are also likely to get restricted and borders securities tightened as the operation was blamed on Islamic State. Kurdish splinter group, the Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan, as well as insurgents from PKK (separatist organisation seeking Kurdish autonomy) are also under watch since the freedom movement claimed responsibility for Istanbul second international airport attack last 23 of December.

"The Turkish economy is suffering from the multiple attacks and geopolitics tensions in 2015. After reaching $35 billion in total tourism revenues in 2014, Turkey's tourism profits fell by 4.4 % to $12.29 billion in the third quarter of 2015.

"Turkey was in 2014 the world's sixth most attractive destination, with a record of 34.8 million visitors. Outbound figures started to decline after the EU imposed sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine in 2015, impacting on the Russian flow towards Turkey - 4.5 million Russian tourists visited Turkey annually until 2015.

"After the suicide bombing killing 32 people in the Turkish town of Suruc last July, nine countries including Germany and Russia issued travel restrictions to their citizens."

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