By Masoud Lavasani, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Why Turkey’s beaches, hard liquor are losing allure among Iranians
In years past, close economic and political relations between Tehran and Ankara coupled with certain liberties, such as freedom to drink alcohol or wear a bikini on public beaches, had made Turkey the No. 1 destination for Iranian tourists.
As obtaining visas to visit Europe became increasingly difficult after the imposition of Western sanctions, even those Iranians who used to visit Europe chose Turkey as their prime vacation destination. Of note, Turkey does not require visas of Iranian citizens.
However, a series of events this year has resulted in Turkey — and its beaches — losing favor with Iranian tourists. Security issues, mistreatment at the hands of Turkish authorities and Ankara’s anti-Iran rhetoric have all resulted in a decreasing number of Iranians choosing Turkey as their holiday destination.
Even if one overlooks the Dec. 23 explosion at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, the current security situation in Turkey is not comparable to just last year, before the cease-fire agreement between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed.
Mehrdad, a researcher who studies tourism at Izmir University in Turkey, told Al-Monitor:
“News about the civil war in the east of Turkey is being strongly relayed by Iranian media outlets. During the past few months, and especially after the military operations in Turkey’s eastern Kurdish provinces, Iranian tourists have become concerned regarding the security situation in this country. On a daily basis, my family asks me about the security situation of the city in which I live and study, and whenever there is news regarding an explosion or a bombing, they call to make sure I am fine. This is why the Iranian families who used to go to Turkey on vacation are now going to Armenia or Dubai instead.”