Assessing the first six months of the tourism sector, Mete Vardar stated, "On November 4, 2022, we initiated our 'Early Reservation' campaign. 2022 proved to be a highly productive year where we exceeded all our goals. This encouraged us to strategically plan for the season by setting ambitious targets. Evaluating the months of November, December, and January, we were exceeding the budget targets we set for all our departments. However, the earthquake on February 6, 2023, deeply affected us. Following the earthquake, as Jolly, we prioritized contributing to the region's recovery for a two-month period. We dedicated all our support to the cause. Presently, both individually and as Jolly, we continue our support for the region." He further noted that demand revived in May and continued to grow in June. He stated that with the sales anticipated for June, July, and the planned sales for August driven by high demand, they believe they will achieve their annual goals. While there was a slight decrease in cultural tours due to the earthquake's focus area, he expressed confidence that they will exceed their budget in foreign tours, Cyprus tours, tickets, and M.I.C.E. departments.

"A golden opportunity for Turkish vacationers"

Mete Vardar also addressed the holiday preferences of domestic tourists, stating, "Turkish vacationers can enjoy holidays at almost the same cost as foreign tourists, and in some cases, even at lower costs, and they can pay for these vacations in 12 installments. This is a significant advantage." He explained that there are also credit card benefits offered by banks. Regarding Jolly's offerings, he added, "Our campaign, which allows guests to pay 25% now and the remaining 75% three days before, is ongoing. We provide various options to our guests through periodic bank campaigns and discount offers. Every travel agency provides some conveniences for local guests. As Jolly, we are doing our best. For years, we have been saying that vacations are not a luxury but a necessity. We emphasize that after a good vacation, there will be more positive developments in everyone's social, work, and home life. We even go further and say, 'Prescribe a vacation.' Vacation is truly crucial, and it's everyone's right." Vardar mentioned that 90% of the recent cost increases for hotels have not been reflected in prices. He emphasized that they are doing their utmost to ensure that domestic guests can utilize the best prices due to the low demand from foreign tourists. Although there has been no decrease in the number of domestic tourists, Vardar noted that there has been a decline in the number of nights stayed. For instance, their average number of nights stayed domestically decreased from 5.7 to 4.6.

"Deferred VAT for a While"

Mete Vardar also stressed the need for support for the tourism sector due to increasing costs. He mentioned the rise in VAT, corporate taxes, personnel expenses, and other costs. To enable domestic tourists to enjoy well-deserved vacations without mid-season price increases, he highlighted the importance of government support. He suggested that support could be provided to travel agencies and hoteliers or at least, these taxes could be deferred for a while.

"Losses will be compensated in the last two quarters"

Regarding the impact of the earthquake and subsequent inflation-related price hikes, Vardar explained, "Currently, occupancy rates in the Aegean region are around 60%, while in the Mediterranean, they range from 70% to 80%. There was an incredible demand and enthusiasm after the pandemic. The positive atmosphere generated in 2022, particularly the heightened expectations for foreign tourists, led hotels to set high targets. However, due to negative economic developments both in Russia and globally, the demands of foreign tourists were negatively affected, and hotels did not achieve their anticipated figures. Interestingly, this situation presented an opportunity for Turkish tourists. Early booking discounts were extended until the beginning of the season, and afterwards, there were no substantial price increases."

According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourist entries aligns with the targets set. However, 15-20% of foreign visitors opted for different alternatives rather than staying in hotels. Vardar expressed hope that the upcoming period would be intense in terms of tourism. If we include July, August, September, October, and November, we can reach the target of 60 million tourists. Although we experienced certain losses in March and April, we will compensate for these losses in the last two quarters."