Turkish tourism unsettled

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish tourism workers fear for their livelihood after deadly bomb attacks on two Istanbul hotels, but sector experts see limited impact from the blasts. Foreign holidaymakers were among those hurt in two hotel bombings in and near the main tourist district early Tuesday which killed two people and injured 11 at the height of the holiday season. The attacks worried carpet shop touts drumming up business among coach groups at the sixth-century Hagia Sofia basilica, just a few hundred meters from the site of one of the blasts. «Incidents like this give us a bad image and destroy our hopes. Tourists are a lifeline for people like us and if they don’t come we go hungry. There were bombings in November and they had a bad influence,» said a 23-year-old named Ahmet. More than 60 people were killed in the city last November when suicide bombers attacked two synagogues, the British Consulate and the local headquarters of the HSBC bank. «What made (Tuesday’s) attacks worse was that they targeted hotels, and people are very sensitive about that. We just have to hope there won’t be any more,» said Huseyin Ulasoglu, 48, who runs a shop near the ornate Ottoman Topkapi Palace. «The current tourism performance is good and I don’t think these latest bombs will have an impact,» said HC Istanbul economist Baturalp Candemir. «However, if such events continue, September and October may be affected.» Tourism sector officials said they were concerned about television and newspaper coverage of the bombings, which officials have blamed on Kurdish separatists. A hoteliers’ association urged the media to be sensitive in its reporting. «The fact that ‘terror’ incidents like this are constantly kept on the agenda will have a negative impact on our tourism sector and economy,» TUROB chairman Timur Bayindir said.

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