The number of foreign visitors going to Turkey fell 10 percent in February, the biggest drop in a decade, amid security concerns for a country feeling the spillover effects from the war in Syria. Ivor Bennett reports
This is the image Turkey wants its tourists to remember. One of history, culture and tranquility. But there is another, very different, picture emerging... ...one of terror. A series of suicide bomb attacks blamed on Islamic State dramatically altering the country's image abroad. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) LOCAL SHOPKEEPER, YAKUP KOPAL, SAYING: "I have friends who opened restaurants. Many of them went bankrupt. I don't know who will cover their damages." Hotels are also empty. After tourist numbers fell by over 10 percent in February compared to last year. It's the biggest fall in a decade, which economists say will cost 8 billion dollars. Some of those affected fear it's even worse. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) GENERAL MANAGER OF CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL, ONDER DINLER, SAYING: "I believe there is a bigger, a sharper fall. This fall has accelerated especially after the last bomb attack in Istanbul. The numbers fell about 20-30 percent in real terms." It's not just terrorism. Istanbul is a favourite with Russians. But a chill in relations has seen their numbers halve. Despite this, Turkey is still the sixth most visited country in the world. Many investors are equally unperturbed, eyeing an expected 1 percent quarterly growth. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CCLA, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "That is the sort of growth level that many developed markets would die for. And that is encouraging some investors to believe Turkey is a smart place to put money for the long term." Turkey's government hopes that sort of confidence will bring the tourists back. It certainly has plenty of assets to entice them.