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    Bird flu and recent tensions affect tourism in Turkey

    Hürriyet Haber
    28.02.2006 - 13:53 | Son Güncelleme:

    Bird flu and protests over the controversial cartoons have taken their tole on tourism in Turkey. The number of foreigners visiting Turkey dropped last month by 4.7% to 667,000 compared with january 2005, according to government figures. On top of this slowdown, a drop in reservations for the summer season has been seen, according to hoteliers and travel agents in at a tourism conference in Istanbul.

    Reservations have fallen "by 25 to 30 percent compared with last season," said Fusan Kayan, sales manager at the luxury hotel chain Marti, which is based in Marmaris in the west and Antalya in the south.

    "The season has gotten off to a bad start," said Yusuf Istanbullu, manager of the Orient Palace in Alanya in southern Turkey, reporting a 10-percent drop in reservations.

    Kayan, put the decline down to the recent tensions in Turkey with tens of thousands of Muslims protesting against the Mohammad cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper. Another factor so Kayan said is the bird fly outbreak in the country when four people died after coming in contact with birds infected with the highly pathogenic H5NI strain of avian flu in eastern Turkey.

    Tourism represents 5.5% of the country's GDP. The tourist industry brought in $18.15 billion in 2005 alone.

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