Turk tourism’s soccer bet

SENDAI, Japan – Turkey hopes sweet, gritty and heart-poundingly caffeine-laden Turkish coffee will be the key to converting World Cup football notoriety into much-needed Japanese tourists this year. Turkey’s football team, due to play the co-hosts in Miyagi tomorrow, may be public enemy number one in Japan but for a crisis-battered country in need of hard currency there’s no such thing as bad publicity. «We want to increase the number of Japanese tourists… and from that angle the World Cup is a good opportunity,» Turkish Ambassador to Japan Yaman Baskurt told Reuters yesterday. Japanese television, riding a wave of football enthusiasm, is giving prime-time coverage to Turkey, showing the struggling EU membership candidate’s mosques and bazaars. One channel also dwelt oddly on the rituals of preparing Turkish coffee and reading the future from the grinds sticking to the sides once the tiny cup is drained. «They call theirs the tea ceremony. We are doing a promotion campaign called the coffee ceremony,» Baskurt said. It will be part of a yearlong push for Turkey in 2003 including exhibitions and roadshows across Japan, he said. Turkey has been wracked by an economic crisis since late 2000 and suffered its worst recession since 1945 last year. The prospect of some free publicity and the chance of a few thousand extra wealthy Japanese tourists spending their cash in Istanbul’s covered market is more than Ankara had hoped for from the World Cup. Baskurt said he was optimistic that Turkey could easily boost the around 60,000 Japanese visitors annually to 100,000 or more. The hard currency they would bring represents a crucial source of earnings for Turkey, where the value of the local lira currency has tumbled over the past year. «It doesn’t end with football. There are economic angles and tourism. We know what this can earn for us in terms of tourism,» Turkish Football Federation Chairman Haluk Ulusoy told reporters. Theological and dogmatic differences between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians must not prevent a joint approach to problems that concern humanity in the modern age. This cooperation forges bonds of love and shared obligation, without slackening efforts to solve theological differences, which is being done through official theological dialogue to bring the churches closer together. In this way, it is indeed apparent that there is much to unite the two sides, and this must not be overlooked or underestimated.

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