It is high tourist season in Turkey but the beaches and hotels in resort towns that are normally packed with foreign visitors are empty.
In Istanbul, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations, hotel occupancy rates have dropped by more than 50 percent, more than the national average.
Not that you need official statistics to understand the deterioration; a stroll through popular tourist areas is enough to see how acute the collapse in visitor numbers have become.
Many businesses relying on tourism have already gone bankrupt. Shopkeepers everywhere are reporting huge falls in their daily trade, complaining that it is impossible to survive much longer.
Last month, The Financial Times reported that Turkey suffered its worst drop in tourism since 1999, and on Friday, it warned that investor interest in Turkey was becoming much lower due to turbulence in domestic politics, tension with Russia and a series of terror attacks in the country.
In an interview with the Reuters News Agency, President’s chief advisor, Bülent Gedikli has dismissed concerns about investor flight and argued that there was still an abundance of cash and Turkey would have no problem finding money.
The reality, however, is quite far from the rosy image that the government is striving to project.
As the leading economist Professor Larry Summers told an audience at the Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF) meeting in Istanbul earlier this month, the external observers do not feel so confident.
“History teaches that the right macro framework and sense of the rule of law is an essential bedrock for societies. That’s the way Turkey will be judged and tested, as it seeks to define its greatness,” Professor Summers said.
The diplomatic stand-offs with Russia and Germany, the conflict in Syria and the renewed fighting with the PKK, all have had a negative impact on Turkey’s economy. Its tourism sector, which accounts for 6,2 percent of the country’s output, is the most obvious one to be badly affected.
Yet, it is the relentless assault on the rule of law that is likely to have the longest lasting repercussions inside and outside the country.
The recent judicial review giving President Erdogan more powers to remove hundreds of top judges, the use of trustees to take over companies and running them to ground are watched with growing concern.
The imminent trial of the Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab for money laundering and bank fraud in the USA and the alleged links to senior Turkish government figures could also have unforeseen consequences.
Despite all those strong warning signals, Turkey’s leaders show no sign of reconsidering their tactics of division and polarization of society.
On Friday, a mob attacked a record store in Istanbul’s popular tourist district of Beyoglu, while a group of Radiohead fans were gathered for the launch of a new music album. Armed with sticks, the Islamist vigilantes vandalized the store, assaulted and threatened to burn customers alive for drinking alcohol during Ramadan.
Even though the attack was broadcast live on the internet and the assailants were easily identified, no arrests were made. The mayor of the district blamed the victims for inciting violence with their insensitivity during the holy month and claimed that the community relations were damaged by recording and broadcasting of the attack. Later, the police used tear gas against a crowd, protesting the attack.
At the end, one more foreign entrepreneur, the South Korean owner of the record shop, was forced to close down his business.
Hardly inspiring confidence for investors and tourists.
Merely hours after the attack in Beyoglu, President Erdogan has wowed to re-build the Ottoman barracks at nearby Gezi Park, reviving a controversial plan that had sparked widespread anti-government protests in 2013.
It looks as if there is still plenty of political capital to be made out of stoking further polarization and violence in Turkey.
It does not take a genius to know that it would not end well.
This post is also available in: Turkish