Turkish foreign visitors fall more than third after coup attempt, bombings

Tourists visit the Ottoman-era Sultanahmet mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

ANKARA (Reuters) - The number of visitors to Turkey fell by more than a third in July, as a suspected Islamic State attack on Istanbul airport and a failed military coup battered its already fragile tourist industry.

The sector had already been hit by the diplomatic fallout with Moscow over a downed jet, which saw Russian tourists boycott Turkey, and a series of other bombings which discouraged foreign visitors.

Ankara’s launched a rapprochement with Moscow last month, but the number of foreigners visiting the NATO member state still fell 36.7 percent in July, year-on-year, to 3.47 million arrivals, data from the Tourism Ministry showed on Wednesday.

The number of visitors from Russia fell almost 90 percent on the previous year to 231,000. Visitor numbers from European countries, the United States, Australia and Canada also fell sharply.

Turkey was rocked by a failed military coup on July 15, while on June 28, 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded when three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

The Turkish Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) said in a statement that hotel occupancy rates in Istanbul fell to 36.8 percent in July, 40.6 percent lower than a year earlier.

TUROB said the decline was less marked in Antalya, usually popular with Russian sunseekers, with domestic visitors propping up occupancy rates.

In June, tourist arrivals fell a record-setting 41 percent.

Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu and Dasha Afanasieva,; Writing by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Jon Boyle