THE number of British tourists visiting Turkey has been decreasing amid security and political concerns, according to sector representatives.

The loss of the Brits is compounding the issue of the country losing around 30 percent of its Russian tourists, mainly due to economic problems in Russia. 

“We have seen a decrease of around 5 percent in the number of British tourists. Around 1 million of the 1.7 million tourists visiting this site are British tourists, but we are losing them,” said Hilton Resort Hotel CEO Hakan Alpay, in Dalaman. 

The number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell in the first half of the year while the outlook for the rest of 2015 looked gloomy, as heightened security risks have weighed down tourists’ appetite for visiting the country.

Foreign arrivals fell 2.25 percent to 14.89 million people in the first six months, data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry showed on July 29.

“While the hotel occupancy rates decreased by 10 percent in some touristic centers, these facilities lost 30 percent in income compared to the last year.

“Many touristic facilities experience financial losses due to the decrease in the tourist numbers as well as continuing unplanned hotel investments. We’ll see the same, even worse problems next year as well,” said Alpay, claiming around 30 big hotels in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya changed hands this year due to negativities in the sector. 

Alpay said: “We cannot endure further decreases in the number of British tourists,” with the number of tourists from the Netherlands decreasing by 3 percent, Belgium by 20 percent, Denmark by 22 percent, Sweden by 15 percent, Ireland by 10 percent and Norway by 13 percent

Mayors call for delay in school openings

The mayors of Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye have called for the new education term to be suspended – to help make up for the losses in the tourism sector.

They have called on the Education Ministry and Culture Ministry to delay the reopening of schools by two weeks.

The mayors of the three districts in Muğla province issued a joint press statement calling for the school year opening date to be postponed by two weeks, in order to incorporate the Eid al-Ahda (Feast of Sacrifice) four-and-a-half-day official holiday. 

Stating that the 2015-2016 school year was due to start on September 14, just one week before the Eid al-Ahda holiday, the three mayors urged the ministry to postpone the opening of schools so that local tourists have more time to travel freely and thus boost the flagging sector.