"Buying overseas holidays in Russia has become a luxury"

The tourism industry in Türkiye is experiencing a challenging season in Russian market, which is its largest market.

General Manager of Intourist Company Group Ismail Bölükbaşı emphasizes that things are not going well in Russia. He states that the main cause of the problems lies in the sanctions imposed on Russia. Bölükbaşı says, "Due to the burden brought by the sanctions, exchange rates have skyrocketed, and buying holidays abroad in Russia has become a luxury. Türkiye, which is an ideal holiday destination for the Russian middle-income group, is currently the most expensive destination. Even the worst hotels are worth their weight in gold. Among mass destinations, Türkiye has become the most expensive country."

"Tour operators made money last year because the ruble was strong"

Bölükbaşı, who says that outbound trips from Russia will likely exceed last year's level, emphasizes that almost all destinations are open in Russia this year. He also mentions that Russians have started traveling to Europe with their own cars or through connecting flights. The General Manager of Intourist Company Group states, "However, turnover will be the same as last year or slightly higher. Because the length of Russians' vacations is decreasing, that's the main issue. Last year, Russians had no trouble buying holidays that cost 50-60 euros per night. However, this year, they struggled with these exchange rates. The reason Russian tour operators made money last year was this."

"There was no discount in the form of a campaign at hotels"

Regarding the question of whether offering discounts to the Russian market in the middle of the season affects demand, Bölükbaşı gives the following response:

"There was no discount process involving all hotels in the form of a campaign. Some hotels in the Kemer region did this. They did, but it was too late interventions. Therefore, we didn't feel any effect. The actions taken may have only prevented a decline in demand in some places."

"Abkhazia is overflowing"

Is there a decrease in demand in Türkiye, or is there a decrease in demand for holidays abroad in general?

"In general, there is a decline, and of course, the reason is high prices. So, the best-performing destination became the cheapest one; that is Abkhazia. This year Abkhazia has been as full as it has never experienced. It's almost mid-September and the unconfirmed reservation rate is in the 30s. There is so much demand. Normally, by September, those places supposed to be empty, but no, they are still receiving a lot of tourists. There is a similar situation in Sochi. The rate of unconfirmed reservations there is 28 percent."

"It's impossible to maintain these capacities with these exchange rates"

Ismail Bölükbaşı stated that it is not possible to keep such huge flight capacities from Russia to Türkiye, with the weak ruble. İsmail Bölükbaşı said: "In the current situation, no tour operator is making money, There is the hotel capacity to meet the demand in Türkiye. However, there is no economy to meet this capacity in Russia. Employees have not had a salary raise for years. This year, it was done, and the rate is 15 percent. This money melts away in three months. If current conditions remain stable, it means there will be a similar season in Russia next year. The economists here also think that the exchange rate will stay between 90-100 rubles newt year."

"In the summer, hotels in Dubai were half the price of those in Turkey"

Bölükbaşı, who also commented on why Russian tourists predominantly went to Dubai and Egypt in the summer instead of Turkey, said, "Dubai is very cheap in the summer. The prices of Turkish Airlines and Fly Dubai are almost the same, but the hotel prices are half of Türkiye's. A lot of people who can't afford to go to Dubai in the winter go in the summer without minding the heat. This is entirely economic."

"The season will continue until mid-November"

Bölükbaşı explains that April and May have been weak for the past few years, and in contrast, there has been a livelier and busier period in October and November, emphasized the following points:

"For the past few years, September, October and November have been better. Hotel prices are dropping. In October and November, the water and weather are very nice in Türkiye. Therefore, Russians who couldn't adjust their holiday budget during the period when prices were high in the peak season, can have a very comfortable holiday in October and November. This also extends the season."

Editor: Savaş Daş