Russian ban hurts medical and health tourism


President Vladimir Putin has imposed a series of economic sanctions against Turkey after Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet.

A host of economic and trade sanctions include a ban on employment of Turkish workers in Russia, the removal of the visa-free travel agreement with Turkey, bans or restrictions on imports of many goods. Travel agencies have been told to stop selling holiday packages to Turkey, and there is a ban on chartered flights between Russia and Turkey. Russia's economic sanctions could cost Turkey up to $20 billion - 3% of Turkey's GDP. According to by the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED), the yearly drop in Russian tourists could result in as much as a $2 billion loss in revenue. Russia is Turkey's biggest supplier of natural gas and its second-largest trading partner.

According to Turkish Tourism Ministry statistics, 3.54 million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2015 from January to October, down from 4.1 million in 2013 and 4.3 million in 2014, mainly due to Russia’s economic problems amid Western economic sanctions imposed on the country. Turkey is the most popular foreign tourist destination for Russians. One in ten tourists to Turkey come from Russia and include thousands of medical tourists and an estimated 50,000 health and wellness travellers.

Selling tours to Turkey would be a blatant violation of Russian laws, according to the Federal Tourism Agency, so Russian airlines, travel agencies and tour operators have banned all trips, and all chartered flights are cancelled. The Russian government has issued a travel warning on Turkey, alleging that it is not a safe place for Russians.

Turkey's economy is vulnerable, as growing geopolitical tensions, and the mini civil war between Turkey and Kurds has already shaken its tourism industry.

The presidential clash of Russia's Putin and Turkey's Erdogan is a major argument with high stakes on both sides, but one where Putin holds most of the cards. The fallout for Turkey is that medical and health tourism will suffer badly.

While many Russians will travel elsewhere, the number of Russian tourists going abroad will fall in 2016 by more than 40 %, according to new predictions from the Russian Federal tourism agency.


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