Turkish tourism minister wants tax plan scrapped


ANKARA – Turkey’s tourism minister called on his government on Thursday to abandon plans for a three percent tax on turnover of hotels, saying it would hit the key foreign-exchange earner.

Turkey cut value-added tax on tourism services to 8 percent from 18 percent at the start of this year to support the industry and help to raise numbers of tourists. But the government plans to introduce to parliament a tax on hotels to raise revenues for municipalities.
In 2007, 23 million tourists visited Turkey.

“We will oppose this bill on all platforms. This three percent rate is exaggerated and would hurt the tourism sector,” Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay told a gathering of construction and tourism firms.
Turkish hoteliers and tourism investors have warned that the tax would be a blow on the sector.

Gunay said 23 million tourists were not enough for Turkey, which he said had tremendous potential but needed better marketing.

“Even Rome or Prague attract 20 million tourists on their own. If we promote our cultural and archeological riches, our $18 billion tourism revenues would rise to $30 billion (per year),” he said.

Tourism is an important source of foreign currency for Turkey, which has a large current account deficit. The latest data showed tourist numbers jumped 13.9 percent in February.