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Turkey's troubles to boost Spanish tourism

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Turkey's troubles to boost Spanish tourism
The Canary Islands, the Costa del Sol and the Balearic islands are thought to be the biggest beneficiaries of the drop in confidence in Turkey as a safe destination. Photo: Fernando Noguera
11:55 CEST+02:00
Spain's tourist numbers could be boosted this summer by holidaymakers avoiding the conflict in Turkey and opting for a safer stay in Spain instead.

Holiday bookings in Turkish cities Istanbul and Ankara have already dropped by 40 percent and if street protests continue for much longer there could be a drop in demand in the country’s popular coastal destinations.

Turkey's problems started on May 31st when a small campaign against plans to raze a park near the city's Taksim Square sparked nationwide protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, seen as increasingly authoritarian.

Police on Tuesday cleared out the area in military-style operation involving water cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets.

These dramatic events are forcing Spain to plan ahead for what could be a surge in the number of tourists looking for a safer summer holiday.

"The repercussions are going to be considerable and we have to be prepared," Rafael Gallego, president of Spain's Travel Agencies Federation, told news agency Europa Press.

Gallego believes Spain will inadvertently benefit from the negative press generated by the Turkish uprising as was the case with the Middle East countries that lost huge tourist numbers as a result of the Arab spring.

"The Canaries are the world’s top destination for sun and beach. They offer a lot of guarantees and safety above all. They're like a refuge destination and once again, they will benefit from this."

Spain's Costa del Sol and the Balearic islands are also thought to be the biggest beneficiaries of the drop in confidence in Turkey as a safe destination.

The 'tourism safety' trend was also recorded in Greece last year, when the Hellenic country’s economic and social problems, added to the increase in germanophobia, led to a drop in 25 percent of tourism revenue and an ensuing boost in numbers in Spain.

"It's too early to tell whether tour operators will want to redirect their customers to safer destinations," a spokesperson for Thomas Cook told The Local.

"Tourists may still opt for Turkey if their bookings are non-refundable."

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