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article imageTurkey's ongoing protests could be good for Spain's 2013 tourism

By Anne Sewell     Jun 11, 2013 in Travel
While Turkey insists that all is well and safe in that country for tourists this summer, people are changing their vacation plans and thinking of heading to Spain instead.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey is trying to reassure tourists that Turkey is a "safe" country to visit, according to the British newspaper Daily Mail.
A spokesperson for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism said “There are currently no problems being experienced with either transport or security in Istanbul or any of our tourism regions and thus every sort of touristic activity is carrying on as normal."
“Flights in and out of Turkey have not been affected by these events and are running as scheduled."
“The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism continues to take every precaution regarding the safety of visitors to the country.”
All sounds well and good, but with the ongoing protests in Turkey, where police are attacking demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons in the streets, it is rather off-putting to tourists looking for a safe and relaxing summer vacation destination.
Formentor  Pollença  Mallorca  Balearic Islands  Spain
Formentor, Pollença, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Antonio De Lorenzo
As confidence in Turkey as a safe destination plummets, the Costa del Sol, Balearic Islands and Canary Islands in Spain are looking more and more attractive.
In 2008, Turkey and Egypt rose in popularity as tourists found them more affordable than Spain, but now it seems the tides are turning yet again.
Reportedly, bookings in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul have already dropped by 40 per cent and should the street demonstrations continue, there could also possibly be a drop in demand for other Turkish coastal destinations.
What started on May 31 as a small protest against plans to destroy one of Istanbul's last green spaces, has turned into a nationwide protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, which is being seen as increasingly authoritarian. Many protesters have been injured by police clearing the streets using military-style operations, involving pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons.
Turkey is normally a popular and affordable summer destination due to reasonable prices and great weather, but it looks like Spain is going to have to prepare for a larger influx than expected this year.
According to Rafael Gallego, president of Spain's Travel Agencies Federation, "The repercussions are going to be considerable and we have to be prepared."
Gallego told news agency Europa Press that he believes that Spain will benefit from the negative media generated by the Turkish upset. He mentioned that this was the case with Middle East countries that lost tourism during the Arab Spring.
"The Canaries are the world’s top destination for sun and beach. They offer a lot of guarantees and safety above all. They're like a refuge destination and once again, they will benefit from this," Gallego said.
Other popular destinations for sea and sun are Spain's Costa del Sol and the Balearic islands, and they are also thought to be possible beneficiaries of the Turkish drop in tourism due to the possible lack of "tourism safety."
A similar trend was recorded in Greece last year, with that country's economic and social problems leading to a 25 per cent drop in tourism revenue and a resulting increase in numbers for Spain.
However, a spokesperson for Thomas Cook told The Local that, "It's too early to tell whether tour operators will want to redirect their customers to safer destinations."
"Tourists may still opt for Turkey if their bookings are non-refundable," the spokesperson added.
Mount Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands is the highest mountain in Spain  is also one of the m...
Mount Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands is the highest mountain in Spain, is also one of the most visited National Parks in the world.
Michael Scheffler
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