Greeks to see tourism gain?

NICOSIA – Greek and Cypriot tourism officials see gains for their own trades if an Israeli security warning against its citizens traveling to southern Turkey deters many holidaymakers. Earlier this week, Israel urged citizens to avoid Turkey’s southern coast between Alanya in the east and Kemer in the west, citing «concrete and grave terror threats» against them. Since last Friday, Israel has diverted cruises carrying more than 6,000 passengers from destinations in Turkey because of what a top Israeli counterterrorism official said was «very worrying» information of possible Al Qaeda attacks. It was not clear how much Israel’s warning would deter tourists, but Turkish officials played down its significance. «People come here because it’s safe. Antalya is the safest city in the world,» Antalya Governor Alaaddin Yuksel was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Antalya lies between Kemer and Alanya on Turkey’s southern coast. Official figures for July show the number of tourists visiting Turkey rose 22 percent year-on-year to 3.16 million. The increase occurred despite a bomb blast in the popular Aegean port of Kusadasi on July 17 that killed five people. Tourism officials in Greece and Cyprus, which share the same seas as Turkey, forecast gains for their own tourism if there is a significant switch by holidaymakers. In Athens, a Tourism Ministry official said his country was picking up more visitors because of the situation in Turkey. «We have seen considerable cancellations of package bookings from Turkey which were absorbed by northern Greece and some of the islands,» the official said. In Cyprus, there has been a rise in inquiries about tourism capacity and expectations have risen that tourists may try to switch from Turkish destinations. «After the Israeli travel advisory against travel to Turkey, there is certainly a potential for extra business, but being August, it is difficult to absorb because our hotels are already fully booked,» said a source in the Cyprus Tourism Organization, who requested anonymity. «Any impact from tourists changing travel plans is likely to appear with additional arrivals in September and October,» the source said.