With the summer vacation season getting underway in Turkey, experts are wondering what the impact of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on Gezi Park protesters will be on the country’s tourism sector.
The answer could prove important for Turkey’s overall economy, now experiencing growth of only a few percentage points. Tourism accounted for $ 29 billion in economic activity in Turkey in 2012, according to TurkStat. The country’s reputation as a secure location for both investors and tourists alike helped boost tourism revenue.
But international tourists lodged in the hotels around Taksim, adjacent to Gezi Park, where anti-government protesters were camped, saw an unpleasant scene on May 31 when police attacked the area with tear gas and water cannons. A EurasiaNet.org correspondent observed dozens of tourists trying to flee, including elderly and small children. One Arab tourist carried a young girl down a side street. The girl was limp, apparently badly affected by tear gas.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.