ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Last week's freefall of the Turkish lira --
which lost one-third of its value against the U.S. dollar -- is
unlikely to affect tourism here, according to delegates at the
Turkish trade show ITTE, held here.
The Turkish currency slipped from 650,000 lire to the U.S.
dollar on Feb. 19 to approximately 1.08 million lire to the dollar
on Feb. 23 after a political crisis that resulted in the floating
of the currency.
The U.S. dollar is widely circulated in Turkey, as several tour
operators noted, and savings accounts as well as payments, from
abroad and within the country, are typically made in dollars.
At a press conference during ITTE, Turkey's tourism minister,
Erkan Mumcu, said the economic instability would not affect tourism
negatively or positively:
"The country's foreign debts will be harder to pay because our
currency is now worth much less, but Turkey will become more
attractive for investment," he said.
At the end of last week, retailers and restaurants were
struggling to print new lira prices -- which are substantially
higher -- that reflected the falling value of the currency.
Meanwhile, Turkish economists are predicting that the currency
will stabilize within two weeks. Until that time, travelers here
are encouraged to exchange as little money as possible. Credit
cards as U.S. dollars are widely accepted in the Turkish shops,
restaurants and hotels.