Promising July leads to optimism for Turkey’s tourism season

Turkish Airlines plane

Since flights were restarted from many countries in July, tourism in Turkey has quickly gathered pace. According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data, around 933,000 tourists flew to Turkey last month alone, which was more than quadruple June figures, which sat at 215,000.

A drop in numbers for tourism

Between January and July, data has shown that Turkey hosted 5.4 million foreign visitors, figures that were down by 78% on the January-July period of 2019, last year – this period saw 24.7 million visitors. This decrease was due to the measure put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. In February, Turkey was forced to postpone the tourism season to June and cancelled a number of events such as fairs and expos.

Reopening the country for tourists

Turkey lifted most of their lockdown measures in June, and the reopening of tourism facilities saw meticulous measures in order to ensure the safety of tourists from the virus. Since the reopening, new coronavirus cases have remained steady.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Culture and Tourism Minister, explained that he was expecting around 15 million tourists in 2020, which will bring in an income revenue of approximately 11 billion USD. This is dependent on flights continuing to operate through the summer season.

Breakdown of visitors to Turkey

Last year, Turkey played host to over 45 million visitors, which was up from 39.5 million in 2018. This January to July, Istanbul was again the top tourist-attracting city, bringing in approximately 51% of foreign tourists – this was around 2.7 million people.

Edirne, situated in north-western Turkey, bordering both Bulgaria and Greece, saw the second-highest number of foreigners at around 818,000. Next was Antalya, a Mediterranean resort town with nearly 650,000 guests from abroad.

Of this, Germans accounted for a total of 2.67 million visitors, over 11% of the visitors. Bulgarian travellers made up 8.5%, while visitors from Georgia accounted for 6.5%. Russians made up 6% and Ukrainians almost 5%.

Bringing the tourists back

In an attempt to lure in tourists, Ankara carried out intensive diplomacy and introduced a health and safety certification program. The certificate set out different health and hygiene standards that airlines, hotels, airports, and restaurants need to follow.

Across the world, Russia, Germany, and Britain have been providing the greatest number of visitors to Turkey since flights began again in the main sectors. After a jump in cases saw Britain impose more quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain, more tourists from the UK have started looking towards Turkey for holidays.


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