Local and foreign tourists stroll at Taksim square in central Istanbul, Turkey March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
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Economists forecast that tourism revenue would tumble by a quarter this year, costing the country around $8 billion. The risk is that better off tourists such as Germans will choose to take their holidays elsewhere while Russians, Turkish tourism's number two market, will be forced to stay away due to an economic crisis at home and political tensions following Turkey's shooting down of a Russian warplane in November.Overall visitor numbers to Turkey fell a relatively modest 1.6 percent last year, according to Tourism Ministry data.But the signs are not good before the May to October peak season, when Turkey usually earns around 70 percent of its tourism revenues.Altogether Turkey has suffered four suicide bombings this year, bringing the death toll to more than 80 .While these were in Ankara and near the Syrian border, the effect on tourism – which accounts for about 4.5 percent of the $800 billion economy and provides more than one million jobs – has already been felt.Last year, for instance, the number of Italians visiting Turkey decreased by 27 percent while Japanese dropped off by nearly 40 percent.Some economists believe tourism could prove an even bigger drag on the economy.
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