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Tumbling Turkish Lira Takes Toll on Tourism to Northern Greece

Thessaloniki, Northern Greece

The tumbling Turkish lira has taken a toll on tourism flows from the neighboring country into Northern Greece, which has seen a 15 percent drop in the third quarter of the year in the number of incoming travelers, local tour operators say.

More specifically, arrivals by road in Q3 of Turkish nationals decreased by 46,399 to 264,455 compared to a year ago. In Q3, the number of arrivals through the Kipi border post dropped by 12.5 percent and by 25 percent through the Kastanies border station.

For the nine-month period, incoming travelers through Kipi dropped by 3.54 percent or 16,446 to 448,693, compared to January-September 2017, and by 19.75 percent through Kastanies to 105,183, down by 25,894 compared to the corresponding period last year.

“Consumption by Turkish visitors is lagging this year. This was, of course, balanced out by the arrival of more Romanian, Bulgarian and Serb visitors… which helped hinder potential damage to the market and the economy,” said Costas Hatzimichael, chairman of the Federation of Commerce & Entrepreneurship of Thrace.

Hatzimichael went on to note, however, that for 2018 he expects a serious reduction in spending on both food and entertainment due to Turkish visitors’ diminishing purchasing power.

At the same time, the lira’s slump has also impacted travel by Turkish nationals to the northern port city of Thessaloniki, where tour operators are expecting the number of visitors for the annual commemoration of Kemal Ataturk’s death on November 10, to drop by a massive 50 percent – the largest decline in the past seven years.

According to data cited, tourism professionals are expecting 8,000-9,000 Turkish visitors compared to almost 20,000 in 2017.

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