The consequences of the earthquake in the south of Turkey and the frightening forecasts of seismological experts have led to the fact that panic has reached Istanbul: tourists from all over the world are canceling tours en masse (read details here). As a result, “the fear that an ‘earthquake will happen’ even without the earthquake itself has already undermined the tourism sector,” according to the Turkish media.
The number of tourists expected to arrive in Istanbul in 2023 could decrease to 8 million, according to tourism sector representatives. As the President of the Association of Restaurants and Tourism (TÜRES) Ramazan Bingel stated, immediately after the earthquake on February 6, only the occupancy of restaurants decreased by 50-70%. “Predictions that an earthquake will inevitably occur in Istanbul are largely to blame for this. There was a serious cancellation of reservations due to the panic they created,” the expert said. According to him, 30-40% of tourists canceled hotel reservations for February. “If this continues, tourism revenues will seriously decline in March, April, and May,” he added. By the way, the crisis in the field of food and beverage sales, according to him, also actually happened because a large part of foreign tourists who were supposed to come to Turkey did not come.
A similar assessment was presented by Yuksel Turemez, the chairman of the board of the TÜRSAB regional office in Istanbul and the Bosphorus. “Given the expected decline in the number of tourists arriving in Istanbul due to the earthquake, tourism revenues are expected to drop by 30-40% within the year. The number of tourists coming to Istanbul may decrease to 8 million,” he said. Before the earthquake, it was expected that at least 14 million tourists would come to Istanbul.
We will see a net loss of bookings for Turkey at ITB in Berlin on March 7-9. But definitely, the earthquake and the expectation of an earthquake in Istanbul will affect tourism,” he said.
It should be noted that in this situation there is also a small plus for tourists: hotels in Istanbul can reduce prices to withstand the expected loss of tourists. If it becomes clear that a significant audience wants to come, hotels can try to compensate for the loss by lowering prices. A little price volatility is possible to prevent a decrease in the number of tourists. Average room prices can be reduced from 100 euros to 80 euros,” Mr. Turemez estimated.
We will also recall one of the forecasts of seismologists regarding Istanbul. “Although the situation in Istanbul has not changed due to the recent aftershocks in the southeast, the risk to the metropolis, in general, is as high as in the affected region so far. The average recurrence period for a major earthquake in Istanbul is 250 years, and the last major earthquake occurred in 1766, so the next one is long overdue,” Marco Bonhoff from the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam told the German press. Forecasting to within a year is difficult, but there is a very high probability that an area of a popular city will be at risk of a major earthquake in the next few years or decades. Read his forecast in this article.