The tourism sector in Turkey is hoping that, by administering coronavirus vaccines, the sector will welcome 25 million foreign visitors this year after a sharp decline in visitor numbers last year due to the coronavirus pandemic that took hold of the globe.
Experts in the tourism sector have predicted that it is going to take at least two years for visitor numbers to return to those prior to the pandemic. The total revenue from tourism equates to 12% of the Turkish economy. The income from tourism fell significantly due to worldwide travel restrictions, closing of borders, and drop in demand due to COVID-19.
Visitor numbers in Turkey
2019 saw 45.06 million foreign visitors arrive in Turkey, and this generated tourism revenues of 34.5 billion USD. From January to November last year, foreign visitors coming to Turkey dropped by 72% to 12 million following restrictions due to COVID-19.
Sururi Corabatir, the Chairperson of the Turkey Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) said that: “We need to reach a target of 25 million to 30 million in 2021. 2021 is the year of crawling and standing up. 2022 – 2023 will be the year of running.”
Corabatir said that the most important element to boost tourism will be the coronavirus vaccine being administered, and the decline of reported coronavirus cases not only in Turkey but also the residents of countries that are responsible for tourists visiting Turkey.
Chairman Firuz Baglikaya from the Turkey Travel Agencies Association (TURSAB) said that: “In 2021, we are targeting half of the numbers in 2019. The sector will experience much tougher competition in 2021.”
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Culture and Tourism Minister in Turkey, said that by the end of last year it was expected for visitor numbers in Turkey to hit 15 million. He went on to say that whilst figures for this year are expected to be up from 2020, they will remain lower than 2019. Ersoy said: “We should target 100% growth for this year as a minimum.”
COVID-19 in Turkey
For the past month, Ankara has adopted curfews for evenings during the week and full lockdown at weekends in a bid to help fight against COVID-19. Turkey has now received their first delivery of Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccines, as well as recently signing an agreement that will see up to 30 million doses from both BIONTech and Pfizer arrive in Turkey.
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