by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Türkiye is looking forward to tapping into key summer tourism industry revenues to prop up its ailing economy as foreign tourists have begun to flow to sunny Turkish holiday resorts, industry professionals said.
Each year, this crucial industry, which employs 2.6 million workers, generates billions of U.S. dollars, offering much-needed respite for the national economy.
Türkiye's tourism income jumped to 46.3 billion dollars in 2022, a surge of over 50 percent from 30 billion in 2021, according to official data announced in late January.
"In Türkiye, tourism has become an indispensable sector for the economy because it generates much-needed foreign currency," Kaan Sahinalp, the Türkiye representative of German travel giant TUI, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"The tourism industry is vital for the hard currency that it brings about for the economy as a whole," helping to reduce the country's substantial current account deficit, he said.
He said he is hopeful that the industry would meet the government's target of 60 million foreign arrivals and 60 billion earnings in 2023.
Meanwhile, Sahinalp pointed out that the weakening of the Turkish currency would give Türkiye "a serious advantage" compared to its regional competitors in terms of prices.
On Wednesday, the lira slipped by over 7 percent against the greenback, trading at 23 lira against 1 dollar, the biggest drop in years. The lira has been weakening since 2018.
During the first quarter of 2023, Türkiye's tourism income soared by 32.3 percent to 8.7 billion dollars, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute report on April 30.
Local Turkish officials are particularly hoping for a good tourism season after devastating earthquakes in February claimed the lives of nearly 51,000 people and led to many hotels along the Aegean and Mediterranean coast hosting displaced survivors for months.
The number of Russian holidaymakers may drop due to the Ukraine crisis and rising costs, said Recep Yavuz, chairman of the Antalya City Council's Tourism Working Group.
In May, arrivals from Russia dropped compared to the previous year, as a result of the weakening purchasing power of the people as the Russian ruble depreciated to a record low, Yavuz told Xinhua.
But in Sahinalp's view, this is only temporary and Russian travelers will arrive en masse on the Mediterranean coast in the near future.
According to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council in January 2023, Türkiye's tourism GDP is expected to increase by about 5.5 percent on an annual basis over the next decade (2022-2032).