Despite Covid, Turkey hopeful for $15bn tourist gain

Olympos, TurkeyTurkey’s tourism industry could net the country US$15 billion (TL 110 billion) by the end of this year.

Anatolian Tourism Operators Association chair Birol Akman told Anadolu Agency that while the country wouldn't be able to reach its target of 60 million tourists this year, there was hope that the industry could make up for lost time between now and the end of 2020.

Hotels and other tourist destinations are implementing strict social distancing and hygiene measures in a bid to attract tourists looking for a more secure summer holiday this year. The rapid stepping up of the industry has meant tourists are beginning to return, and if numbers continued, the country could hope to gain $15bn, Akman said.

Read more: Coronavirus measures see Turkey welcome visitors again

Figures last week showed that Turkey's southern city Antaly was the most popular tourist destination, welcoming a million tourists from 31 countries between January 1 and August 19. The visitors came from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

While numbers are good, they're nowhere near the highs of 2019. Last year, tourist revenues hit $34.5bn, and 52m tourists arrived in the country - an increase of almost 14% from 2018, making an all-time record. Antalya received almost a quarter of those visitors, setting a record.

Although 2020 is a fallow year for Turkish tourism, Akman said 90% of Antalya's hotels have reopened their doors, and cultural and historic destinations are welcoming guests. However, there was a high level of caution, he said.

“Some might think rules have been loosened in the Mediterranean region, but that’s not true. Inspections continue and health measures are still in place."

Visitors to Turkey have their temperature taken on arrival, and receive medical treatment if the need arises. Hotels with a safe tourism certificate have isolation rooms for Covid-positive tourists, who can remain in the hotel while their families vacation without them.


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