Turkish hotels need serious debt help, industry official says


A member of staff at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet Hotel disinfects a room as she checks the hotel’s readiness for the Healthy Tourism Certificate program aimed at convincing travelers despite the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19 ), in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 21, 2020 REUTERS / Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – Turkish hotels are heavily in debt and need “serious support” to repay their loans as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the president of the Association of Turkey hotels (TUROB).

Speaking at a meeting on the outlook for the sector, Muberra Eresin said the association will meet with the Turkish Banking Association to discuss the debt issue in the coming days.

Hotels need their payments to be deferred, she said.

Turkey’s tourism sector accounts for over 10% of the economy, attracting vital hard currencies to offset a heavy trade deficit. Foreign arrivals this year have rebounded sharply from last year, but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

While the Russian market has performed well, Germany’s classification of Turkey as a high-risk country last month hurt the sector. Turkey’s UK Red List – which ended last week – has hit hotels heavily reliant on the UK market.

TUROB’s Eresin said the average occupancy rate for hotels that were able to open this season was 44% in the first eight months of the year, compared to 67% for all hotels in 2019.

She said 20% of Istanbul hotels were still closed due to the pandemic and that they planned to open early next year.

Reporting by Ceyda Caglayan; Written by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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