With the unrest largely confined to the cities of Istanbul and Ankara, tourists continue to fly into the country and many are heading for the beaches.
Turkey has become a favorite destination for European tourism in recent years, attracted by its rich history, warm weather, and beaches.
Turkey’s travel industry brings much-needed foreign currency into the country. The tourist industry alone generated $23 billion last year.
But experts warn that the industry could suffer if the protests intensify and foreign governments continue to issue travel advisories against the protest hot spots.
And the peak months of July and August are coming up, where normally Turkey gets some 10 million tourists, with 40% of them flying into Istanbul.
According to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, Istanbul was one of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world last year, with 11.6 million international tourists and earning $10.6 billion in revenue.
“People are definitely nervous,” said David Segel, managing director of West End Travel in London.
At the moment, tourists with pre-booked flights and package holidays are still flying into the country as they’re unable to obtain refunds for their trips, said Segel.
Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek told CNN that the economic damage from the protests has so far been insignificant, but if the unrest continues the tourism industry could suffer.
“We’ve seen in the past that events like this have had some temporary impact, but no lasting impact,” Simsek said.
Fortunately for the industry, most of Istanbul’s top attractions such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, are located far from the heart of the protests in Taksim Square. Image/CNN