The tourism goal for 2021 is firmly in Turkey’s sight as there are hopes to allow tourist arrivals back by June. The Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said this was due to the decreasing coronavirus cases.
In a bid to cut down infection rates and save the up-and-coming season, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed a lockdown through mid-May. This was, he said, in part to ensure that European countries did not leave Turkey behind when announcing the reopening of beaches, restaurants, and international travel.
30 million tourist target for Turkey
Ersoy told Reuters that twice as many foreigners could arrive this year, a whopping 30 million, compared to last year; this is only if the lockdown succeeds in bringing down the daily coronavirus cases to 5,000.
Some of the leading Turkish and Russian agents are predicting a difficult few months until August, when they said that the hot spots of the Mediterranean and Aegean, and historic sites in Istanbul could begin to fill up once more.
Manager at Travelland agency in Moscow, Yana Starostina, said that clients are still wanting to fly to Turkey. Mediterranean tourists hubs are still trying to secure bookings, even with the constantly shifting map of travel warnings, local and global restrictions, and the vaccination rollout.
Turkey’s neighbour Greece lifted quarantine restrictions for tourists, allowing more virus-free visitors. This comes as Turkey announced it will ditch the virus test requirement for travellers coming from Britain, China, Ukraine, and other countries.
Economic hits from the pandemic
12% of Turkey’s economy is accounted for by tourism and this has been the hardest hit sector in the past year, even with virus-related restrictions being lifted. In 2020, tourism brought in 12 billion USD, which was down from the previous record-breaking year in 2019, which had been 35 billion USD.
Ersoy commented that while arrivals were down year-on-year by 54% in the first quarter, the sharp drop in coronavirus cases since April 21 showed a hopeful sign that the ‘drastic’ lockdown restrictions were having an effect. Ersoy said that Turkey maintains the target of 30 million tourists this year.
Erdogan’s government is hoping to propel some last-minute bookings with a safe hotel certification programme and the lockdown, which has so far allowed for 16% of the country’s population to be vaccinated.
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