It is a ray of hope for Turkey's economy, which has been shaken by the pandemic, the consequences of war and inflation: the tourists are coming back, especially the Germans.

Tourism managers expect bookings from Germany this year to exceed those of the pre-pandemic year 2019.

That would be important for Turkey.

Because many travelers from Russia and Ukraine have stayed away since the war began three months ago.

But here, too, there are signs of improvement.

Andreas Mihm

Business correspondent for Austria, Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey based in Vienna.

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According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism in Ankara, more than three times as many foreigners entered Turkey in April as in the same month last year.

Not all are classic tourists.

The 2.57 million guests also include business people and cross-border commuters from neighboring countries such as Bulgaria and Iran, who just come across the border to do their shopping.

Bulgarians and Iranians are in second and third place this year.

Germans take first place.

Every seventh person at passport control showed a German ID in April.

Tour operators see a trend.

Deniz Ugur, CEO of Bentour Reisen AG, one of the major Turkey travel specialists in German-speaking countries, expects the 2019 result to be exceeded.

"The booking figures of the organizers are currently 30 to 35 percent higher than in 2019," he told the FAZ

Turkey needs tourists more than ever

At that time, Turkey alone had 5 million visitors from Germany.

Most were classic package holidaymakers who expect relaxation on the beach with all-round care.

But the statistics also included hundreds of thousands of business travelers and city tourists who flew to Istanbul for a long weekend.

But this year, Ugur believes that package holidaymakers from Germany alone could break the 5 million mark on their way to Bodrum and Antalya.

"That's gigantic." That would probably come close to the record figures of 2015 with 5.6 million trips to Turkey.

It was the last year before political and other turmoil that dampened German tourism to Turkey.

For Turkey, the resurgence of the tourism sector would be a boon.

Because the tourism industry contributes around one seventh to the gross domestic product in normal times, restaurants and hotels offer 1.5 million jobs.

Above all, tourists bring important foreign exchange earnings to the state.

Inflation continues to rise

Although they had doubled to almost $25 billion last year, they were still well below the record figure of $34.5 billion set in 2019. Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy would like to reach that amount this year, better yet: surpass it.

Because the increase in the price of energy, raw material and grain imports creates a large gap in Turkey's current account.

This is happening at the very moment when the country is trying to reduce the deficit with increased export efforts.

The targeted devaluation of the lira should help here, even if this further fuels domestic inflation, which has recently skyrocketed to 70 percent year-on-year.

After all, tourists can benefit from it in parts.

So says Ahmet Aras, the Mayor of Bodrum, a popular holiday destination on the Aegean coast: “We really are a cheap travel destination now.

Not only Bodrum, but Turkey itself has become a very attractive travel destination again due to the weak lira.”