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Inbound MICE to Turkey 'down by 99 per cent' for DMC

MEP urges organisers to consider other destinations in Turkey as inbound business to Istanbul dries up

Pictured: at least 36 people were killed on Tuesday when three suicide bombers targeted Istanbul's main airport, Ataturk

Turkish operators are urging agencies to consider alternative destinations outside Istanbul - such as Bodrum and Turquoise Coast - with one destination management company revealing it has lost "99 per cent" of international business.

Following recent terror incidents, including this week's attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, MEP Destination Business Solutions is urging agencies to consider destinations such as Bodrum, Dalaman or Northern Cyprus, to keep business ticking over.

MEP's Eda Ozden said before Tuesday's attack hotel occupancy in Istanbul was 28 per cent, but she expected it to have fallen even further since.

"After the (earlier) bombings we said we'll be able to recuperate, but now there's no way to sugar coat it," she said.

"We've had 99 per cent of international business stop booking. Compared to last year, we're doing one per cent of what we used to do. It's that much down; it's almost negligible. That one per cent is a few individuals coming, a few government-related groups still coming. And that's it, there's nothing.

"Yes it's Ramadan but June is the top time for MICE. And having less than 30 per cent occupancy is insane."

Ozden, who is on the international board of directors for Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (Site), urged event organisers to consider alternative Turkish destinations which have direct flight access, allowing groups to avoid Istanbul.

"In all honesty, it's not realistic to say keep on coming because we work with companies that say to staff 'don't sign up to projects in Turkey at the moment'. There's no trying to reason with that," she said.

"But we have some areas we're promoting for the short and medium terms, including Bodrum and Dalaman, and also Northern Cyprus. There's still lots of investment going on there, and we're still seeing business to that destination."

Ozden said she is currently working on a proposal for a group of 500 from the UK for Northern Cyprus.

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