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Foreign Visitors to Turkey Fall, Security Risks Cloud Outlook

  • Reuters

Couples pose for souvenir pictures in front of the Ottoman-era Ortakoy Mecidiye mosque by the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 5, 2015.

Couples pose for souvenir pictures in front of the Ottoman-era Ortakoy Mecidiye mosque by the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 5, 2015.

The number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell in the first half of the year and the outlook for the rest of 2015 looked gloomy as heightened security risks weigh on tourists' appetite for visiting the country.

Foreign arrivals fell 2.25 percent to 14.89 million people in the first six months, data from the Tourism Ministry showed on Wednesday. Tourism revenue is the biggest component of financing for Turkey's large current account deficit.

Last week, Turkey started bombing Kurdish militant group PKK's camps in northern Iraq as well as Islamic State militants in northern Syria after a suicide bomber killed 32 people in the EU candidate's southeast.

Many countries including the United States, Great Britain and Germany have issued travel advisories for their citizens in recent months. The biggest fall was recorded for Russian tourists, with a fall of almost 25 percent.

"With the ongoing security situation in southeast Turkey and the possibility of spontaneous demonstrations, the U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, avoid demonstrations, review personal security plans and be aware of your surroundings," the embassy said on its website.

"U.S. citizens should follow local news sources for any potential areas of concern. Travel to southeast Turkey is restricted for U.S. government employees, and, if possible, U.S. citizens should defer travel to these areas as well," it added.

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