Brits flood into Turkey, a welcome tourism boost

The Brits are back: last week, Turkey was removed from the UK's "red" travel list, which required tourists to quarantine on their return home. Right away, British tourists began arriving: 10 planes carrying almost 1500 British tourists to Mugla, an official confirmed last week.

Dalaman Airport official Hamdi Guvenc said that pre-pandemic, some 90,000 British tourists arrived every October. Currently, 60,000 are expected. 

"But reservations still continue. We believe that we can reach pre-pandemic numbers again,” Guvenc said.

Almost 1000 had booked Mugla holidays in the past few days, he added. 

More than a million British tourists travel to Mugla each year, heading to favourite spots in Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye.

One of these is British tourist Peter Stevens, who told Anadolu Agency that he had "longed" to come to Turkey during the pandemic. "We have been to there several times before. With the resumption of flights, we came for a holiday with our child," Stevens said.

Leaving the red list meant a shake-up for holiday bookings, with holiday provider Jet2 reporting an increase of over 1000%. Turkey was the most popular holiday destination on the red list, having attracted 2.3m British tourists before the pandemic. 

Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TURSAB) has said it is anticipated that at least 200,000 Brits will arrive over the next three months.

The British influx comes on top of a favourable August: foreign arrivals reached almost 4 million last month, a 120% increase year on year. While arrivals are still 37% lower than August 2019, before the pandemic, the numbers are prompting a sigh of relief to hoteliers, restaurateurs and all the other people who rely on tourism, to whom the figures represent a return to, if not normal, somewhere in the same ballpark.

Among the holiday destinations, Antalya welcomed the most visitors in August, 1.8 million - some 46% of the visitor share. This was followed by Istanbul, with 1m visitors. 

With Turkey still on the UK's red list in August, Russians made up the greatest tourist share, with just over 900,000 visiting last month. This was followed by 611,000 Germans and 324,000 Ukranians. 

Between January and August, more than 14 million foreign visitors entered Turkey, a rise of 94% from the same period last year, but a decrease of 55% from 2019.


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