Asignificant increase in tourism income in 2000 will help keep the current deficit within acceptable limits, despite the expected increase in imports because of high oil prices, according to Economy Minister Recep Onal.

Speaking on the fringes of the IMF and World Bank meetings in Prague on 26 September, he said: ‘We expect a significant contribution from tourism this year.’

The current account showed a deficit of $1,364 million in 1999, compared with a surplus of $1,984 million the previous year, according to revised figures published by the IMF in September. Economists have warned that the deficit will be much higher in 2000 because of the impact of higher oil prices. However, the rise in imports is expected to be offset by a strong recovery in tourism.

Income from tourism has declined over the past two years due to the effects of two major earthquakes and attacks by Kurdish rebels.

However, in the first seven months of this year, arrivals were up by 37 per cent to 5.4 million, compared with 4 million in January-July 1999. Income from tourism is expected to exceed $10,000 million this year, compared with just $5,500 million in 1999.