A senior industry representative said that Turkey’s tourism industry could generate as much as 15 billion USD by the end of 2020 as the sector sees a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with international arrivals rising in numbers.
The chairman of the Anatolian Tourism Operators Association and board member of the Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), Birol Akman was quoted saying that the country could no longer reach the goal pre-pandemic of reaching 60 million tourists in 2020. However, he did note that the strict implementation of safety measures, including social distancing, could help the tourism sector recuperate from the crisis quicker than other sectors.
The industry could see highs of 15 billion USD by the end of 2020, Akman predicted, if tourists continue to arrive at the same steady rate – he also noted that this would be as long as the COVID-19 pandemic remained under control without a second wave.
Tourism down from last year
Between January 1 and August 19, official figures revealed that Turkey’s most popular tourist destination, Antalya, welcomed more than 1 million foreign tourists from a total of 31 countries. This included 300,000 from Ukraine, 281,000 Russians, 221,000 travelling from Germany, and around 85,000 coming to Turkey from Britain.
While the tourism sector is enjoying the rising number of tourists post-pandemic, the official statistics show that this is nowhere near what the previous year was. Tourism revenues from 2019 capped out at 34.52 billion USD, with Turkey welcoming almost 52 million visitors; this was 13.7% higher than 2018. During 2019, figures show that Antalya alone saw 15 million visitors from a total of 193 countries, setting an all-time record for tourism in Turkey.
Health measures and Turkey’s safety for tourists
Regardless of fears, Akman is hopeful that the tourism sector will recover quickly, primarily thanks to the success of Turkey in getting the coronavirus pandemic under control, as well as the overall effort to offer guests safer tourism experiences.
According to Akman, 50,000 tourists arrive in Antalya every day, and now 90% of hotels have reopened their doors due to the high mobility of tourist activities in the city, as well as the high demand.
Akman 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.” He continued on to stress that Turkey is the safest place for travel and medical treatment if the need arises for all tourists who wish to travel.
Hotels offering isolation rooms for COVID-19 tourists
A revision to the Safe Tourism Certification Program was announced by the Tourism and Culture Ministry; this states that any tourist who tests positive for the virus while they are holidaying in Turkey would be able to isolate themselves inside the hotel that they were staying during their vacation.
The guidelines of these new rulings see hotels with a safe tourism certificate required to provide any tourists who test positive for the virus while holidaying in Turkey with a safe isolation room until they are no longer carrying the virus.
Obligations of the hotels
Thanks to this new ruling, hotels in Turkey have an obligation to have one isolation room for every 50 normal rooms within their hotels. There are other guidelines to this, including that COVID-19 positive people are not allowed to be accommodated with other visitors on the same floor, or there must be at least two rooms either side that are kept empty.
As well as this, those testing positive will have their own personnel who will not be allowed to leave the hotel premises and will regularly receive health screening. According to the ministry, hotels choosing not to follow these new amendments will no longer be allowed to operate during the pandemic and will lose their safe tourism certificates.
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