The Turkish tourism industry is reaping the benefits of improved relations between Israel and Turkey. Since March, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Prime Minister Recep Erdogan for the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Israeli tourism in Turkey has increased by over 80 percent, Ynet reports.
“After the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Turkey lost most of its Israeli tourists to Greece or other countries,” an Antalya-based tourism representative told the website. “Fortunately, just after Israel’s formal apology in March 2013, this trend began to turn around for us.”
Recent protests against Erdogan haven’t seemed to stop tourists. Some 9,519,922 tourists visited Turkey in 2013. Tailwind Airlines, a Turkish charter airline, will begin flying a direct route from Ben Gurion Airport to the Turkish resort city of Antalya three times a week, Haaretz reports. But numbers still aren’t what they were back in 2008.
“Greece is still more in demand than Antalya,” says Dana Lavie, Marketing VP for Daka 90 travel deal website. According to Lavie, Crete is the number one destination among users of the site, followed by Rhodes. Antalya is third, followed by Burgos in Bulgaria. “Perhaps its because of the terror attack [in Burgos] last year, but Antalya has passed Burgos this year in the number of Israeli vacationers and it isn’t far behind the number of vacationers who went to Rhodes this year,” she says.
Turkish residents are doing a bit of traveling, too. But no word on whether they’re headed to the beaches of Tel Aviv.