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Israelis Refrain from Visiting Turkey as Turks Tour Israel

In the past year there has been a decline in the number of Israelis who visit Turkey. Turks, however, continue to visit Israel.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 2/17/2012, 4:12 AM

Turkey tourism booth
Turkey tourism booth
Yoni Kempinski

The 18th International Mediterranean Tourism Market show in Tel Aviv included a booth which tried to encourage Israelis to visit Turkey. However, it appears as though the deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey has discouraged Israelis from visiting Turkey.

Hassan Saritepeci of the Turkish Embassy’s Cultural and Information Office told Arutz Sheva that last year only 80,000 Israelis visited Turkey. While that number may seem high, the year before that saw 500,000 Israelis visiting Turkey.

“There is a decline, but I think this is the end of that decline,” Saritepeci predicted. “From now on we are expecting an increase because right now it is a calm period. During this period, the Israelis will go to Turkey once again.”

Interestingly enough, noted Saritepeci, despite the decline in the number of Israelis who visit Turkey, there are many Turks who choose to visit Israel. He said he believes the decline in the number of Israelis stems only from political reasons.

“If the political situation improves, we’ll see a boom in travel from Israel to Turkey,” he said, and called to focus on tourism and travel, not on politics. “Turkey is the best tourist destination for Israelis,” he said.

Eliko Dunemez, a Vice President of a Turkish tourism company, reinforced Saritepeci’s remarks and sought to reassure Israelis that Turkey is still a safe country to visit.

“[Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan says in every television interview that he has no problem with the Israeli people,” said Dunemez. “There is only a political problem. He emphasizes that in each interview.”

He added, “I can tell the people of Israel that they can travel to Turkey. There’s no problem at all. The hotels in Antalya are waiting for the Israelis.”