Is Turkey witnessing a revival of Saudi tourism after improved relations?

What did Erdogan say after his visit to Saudi Arabia?

It will open new horizons for the development of relations and the return of tourism.

When did the number of tourists to Turkey from Saudi Arabia decline?

After the Khashoggi crisis.

When was the highest percentage of Saudi tourism that Turkey witnessed?

In 2018, 747,000 Saudi tourists.

For many years, Turkey has been and still is a destination for Arab and Middle Eastern tourism in general, and for the Gulf in particular, due to its temperate climate, beautiful nature, excellent services and its possession of historical and archaeological monuments.

Until three years ago, Saudis were among the most numerous in the Arab world, regularly visiting Turkey in summer and winter, with tens of thousands of people bringing in huge sums for the public treasury of the Arab world. Turkey.

In addition to the Corona crisis, the crisis that erupted between Ankara and Riyadh has played an important role in the decline of Saudi tourism in Turkey, but the recent visit of the Turkish President to Saudi Arabia opens a door for tourism to return to what he was. was before, then will it be realized?

Turkish hopefuls

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and his statements during his return trip to Ankara have opened new horizons for the development of relations with Turkey’s regional neighbors and on the full normalization of relations. in the next few days.

Perhaps the main driver of Erdogan’s moves to Saudi Arabia, which prompted him to visit Riyadh at the end of April, is purely economic, as tourism is one such trend, having been hit hard recently.

On May 2, in statements to reporters after the Eid al-Fitr prayer, the Turkish president referred to his visit to Saudi Arabia, expressing his confidence that relations between the two countries will develop considerably in various fields. , including tourism.

And he added: “As you know, there are very positive developments with the Gulf region, and my recent visit to Saudi Arabia will be an important exit door in this context (in terms of tourism), and I am convinced that the visits of our Saudi brothers to Turkey will increase even more.”

He stressed that the influx of Saudi tourists will help boost tourism movement in Turkey, and expressed optimism that this year’s tourist season will be “very good”.

In early May, after more than two years of suspension, Saudi Airlines resumed operating flights to Turkey, following improved political relations between the two countries, amid expectations of an increase in tourist numbers from Saudi Arabia to Turkey.

The decline of Saudi tourists

Following the Khashoggi murder crisis in October 2018, and the subsequent political crisis between the two countries, and then the Corona pandemic, the number of tourists received by Turkey from Saudi Arabia fell between 2019 and 2021.

For example, the first ten months of 2020 saw Turkey receive 222,200 visitors from 5 Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, compared to 1.04 million in the same period last year. , according to data from the Turkish Authority. Ministry of Tourism.

And 66.8 thousand Saudis visited Turkey from the beginning of 2020 to the end of October, a decrease of 87.1% compared to the same period in 2019, when Turkey received 519.9 thousand Saudis, down by 23, 3% compared to the first ten months of 2018.

Extensive campaigns were launched to call for a boycott of tourism in Turkey and the purchase of Turkish products, launched by government figures, the most important of which was when “Ajlan Al-Ajlan”, chairman of the Council of Chambers of Commerce , called through his official Twitter account for a grassroots boycott of Turkish goods and services, from import to investment and tourism.

Saudi media have also sought to discourage Saudis from visiting Turkey, promoting various allegations including that tourists have been killed, assaulted, missing, and victims of fraud and interruption.

Resumption of tourism

Turkish political analyst Firas Ridwanoglu says Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia and bilateral meetings will produce a revival “of Turkish tourism in a broad and very important way”.

He told ‘Al-Khaleej Online’ that the figures, despite their importance regarding the number of tourists, “what matters is what the Saudi tourist spends compared to other tourists, which sometimes reaches 3 to 5 times what any other tourist pays”.

He added, “The Saudi tourist is probably the favorite of Turkish businesses and shops, in addition to investment for tourists who buy commercial real estate, which helps to move the wheel of the economy.”

He continued, “Therefore, the improvement in political relations is the main reason for the improvement in other aspects, and it has a role in the economic aspect, which includes tourism.”

Before the crisis

Before the Corona crisis, Turkey was one of the most important countries that Saudi tourists used to visit, for many considerations, which caused the numbers to increase year after year, until it peaked in 2018, before starting to decline the following year. after the Khashoggi crisis and then the Corona crisis.

For example, the number of Saudi tourists increased from 23,676 in 2003 to 747,233 in 2018, which is already a huge increase, according to official Turkish statistics.

The most important reason for this increase was the desire of Saudis to enjoy nature, relax and get rid of the stresses of life in a wonderful atmosphere, all this in addition to the fact that it is not far from Saudi Arabia.

In addition, one of the reasons is that it is an Islamic country in which Islamic civilization and culture has spread, with ease of movement and residence, simple cost of living and diversity different nature.

In addition, Turks resort to it for medical tourism purposes, with some preferring to visit Turkish hospitals due to their medical service.

Saudis are also coming to Turkey to buy real estate in droves, whether buying apartments in Turkey, villas, hotels or land, as some of them aim to invest in vital areas that are expected to experience price increases in the coming years, and some for leisure and relaxation purposes. During seasonal holidays, some people even think of obtaining Turkish citizenship.

Leave a Comment