With tourist arrivals from Arab countries having doubled in recent months, many feel Turkey could be benefiting from its anti-US stand on the Iraq war.
In the first six months of this year, nearly 325,000 tourists from Arab countries visited Turkey—almost the same number from those countries all of 2002.
The country’s conservative newspaper, Zaman says the remarkable rush is to a large measure due to the Turkish parliament’s refusal to allow US troops launch its war against Iraq from its northern frontiers.
It won Turkey the instant admiration of Arabs, who overwhelmingly hated the war.
“I would have cancelled my holiday here if Turkey had allowed the war to be launched from its territory,” Zaman quoted a Syrian visitor as saying.
Another Jordanian tourist also expressed similar sentiments, saying he was keen to show his family “the Islamic monuments of Turkey,” which said ‘no’ to the United States.
'I would have cancelled my holiday here if Turkey had allowed the war to be launched from its territory'
The paper also quoted a Saudi businessman who chose Turkey for his holiday because of its defiance of the United States.
He said he wanted his children to “see the country that refused to allow US troops on its soil.”
In standing up to the US, Turkey lost billions of dollars in aid.
But the influx of Arab tourists is promising to minimise the damage.
Tourism has always been the country’s main hard currency earner, bringing in more than 11 billion dollars last year.
This year, Turkey can hope to make a tidy earning from the grateful Arab tourists.