Russian Tour Agencies Cancel Turkey Trips Amid Fury Over Downed Warplane
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 26, 2015)
Turkey is a hugely popular vacation spot for Russians, almost 3.3 million of whom holidayed there in 2014, according to official figures.
Russian tour agencies have canceled flights to Turkey and suspended sales of new tours a day after the downing of a Russian fighter-bomber by the Turkish military, Russian media reported Wednesday.
The move is a blow to Turkey’s tourism industry, which hosts millions of Russians each year, and follows recommendations from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and tourism regulator not to travel to the country for safety reasons.
Turkey is a hugely popular vacation spot for Russians, almost 3.3 million of whom holidayed there in 2014, according to official figures. According to Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, they contributed nearly $4 billion to the Turkish economy last year.
The deputy head of the Russian Association of Tour Operators, Dmitry Gorin, said Wednesday, “all tour operators are canceling charter flights and have stopped sales of tours [to Turkey],” according to news agency RIA Novosti. He added that there were no plans to evacuate those already on vacation.
A groundswell of Russian anger followed the downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber by an air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16 interceptor near the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey said the jet had violated its airspace while Russia insisted that the plane was on the Syrian territory.
On Twitter, the hashtag #boycottTurkey was trending on Wednesday. Gennady Onishchenko, a popular former health official now advising the government, announced that: “Every Turkish tomato you buy … is your contribution to a rocket to shoot down our boys,” RIA Novosti reported.
Following the incident, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have played up Turkey’s links with Islamist groups and suggested that the country is dangerous for Russians.