(MENAFN - Trend News Agency ) Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 28
By Farhad Daneshvar – Trend:
While the economic indicators show no significant changes in the purchasing power of Iranians, the number of Iranian tourists visiting Turkey has hit a three-year high over the first half of 2017.
In the meantime, Turkish officials are expecting to host at least two million tourists from the neighboring Iran by the year-end.
The latest statistics by the Culture and Tourism Ministry of Turkey indicates that the number of Iranian tourists in the country has exceeded 1 million over the first half of the current year.
On the other hand, Iranian officials say that 1.9 million Iranians traveled abroad over the first quarter of the current Iranian year (starting March 20), marking a 9-percent increase year-on-year.
Iranian officials have suggested that the increase in the number of tourists going abroad has led to a negative balance between inbound and outbound tourism.
The surge in the number of tourists traveling abroad causes the question whether the purchasing power of Iranians has improved.
"In the current situation the average income of Iranians has apparently dropped. The fact that the number of Iranian tourists traveling abroad has increased by 9 percent indicates a growing income inequality among the different groups of the population," Jamshid Pazhouyan, an outstanding economist and professor at Allameh Tabatabai University, told Trend.
"Over the last years, security issues caused a decline in the number of tourists visiting Turkey, which led to a drop in the prices of package tours. However, the security has relatively been maintained there. I assume that the lower prices have encouraged Iranian tourists to visit the neighboring country," Pazhouyan said elaborating on the reasons behind the growing number of Iranian tourists arriving in Turkey.
"Another notable point is that the value of Iran's national currency over the past year has fallen against the foreign currencies, therefore the costs of visiting European countries have increased for Iranians. So, Turkey still remains as an affordable option for Iranian tourists"
Iranian tourists contributed about $1 billion to Turkey's tourism industry in 2015. Interestingly, over the past decade the fluctuation of foreign currency in Iranian market had an apparent effect on the number of tourist departures from the Islamic Republic.
One US dollar in Iranian market in years 2001-2010 valued between 8,000 and 10,000 rials. In this period of time, the number of Iranian tourists visiting Turkey increased from 327,000 to 1.8 million.
However, following a sharp devaluation of rial in 2011 the number of Iranians traveling to Turkey dropped considerably.
Since 2014, when the US dollar exchange rate in Iranian market became stable, the country has witnessed an upward trend in the number of tourists visiting Turkey.
However, there is another group of observers who suggest that the high quality of tourism sector in Turkey as well as shopping opportunities lure Iranian tourists.