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Israeli Tourist Presence in Turkey: 10% of What it was in 2009

Israeli tourism to Turkey, already low in 2009, has dropped again and is now 90% lower than in the summer of 2009.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/5/2010, 8:13 PM / Last Update: 8/5/2010, 8:48 PM

Israeli tourism to Turkey has dropped by 90% compared to the summer of 2009, officials at the Turkish Tourism Ministry have reported. Israeli tourism to Turkey was considered unusually low in 2009.

2,600 Israeli citizens visited Turkey in June of 2010, compared to 27,000 in June of 2009.

The drop in Israeli tourism has had a negative impact on the Turkish economy, which has lost an estimated $400 million.

In 2008, a record year for Israeli Turkey tourism, a total of 500,000 Israelis visited Turkey.Tourism dropped sharply in 2009 after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly condemned Israel over the Cast Lead counterterrorism operation in Gaza, and canceled a joint air exercise. According to official statistics, there was a 33% drop in the number of air travelers from Israel to Turkey in 2009.

Tensions only increased in 2010 when Turkey sent a boat manned by members of the IHH terrorist group as part of a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's naval closure against Hamas-led Gaza. The Turkish activists attacked IDF soldiers who boarded the boat, leading to a clash in which nine Turkish citizens were killed and two IDF soldiers badly wounded.

While the National Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Bureau has approved civilian travel to Turkey, IDF officers and soldiers are forbidden to visit the country.