Despite the pandemic, Russian tourists’ interest in the Mediterranean coast of Turkey continues to rise. Due to this support, tourist operators have stated that they will be prolonging the holiday season to include November, with some saying they may even extend the season through December too. Hotels in Antalya have seen such a rise in demand that they are already postponing seasonal closures.
The Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) stated that they had anticipated the tourist sector in Turkey would see Russians travelling more in the last three months of this year. Due to this, it is no surprise that major operators that ferry tourists from Russia to Turkey have announced that they will be prolonging the season to December.
In the period of January through to August, German tourists recorded the highest numbers visiting Antalya. However, in September when flights from Russia were available again, Russians easily beat German tourist numbers. Flights from Russia began again on August 10 when COVID-19 appeared to slow, and since then Russians have topped the foreign visitors list making up a colossal 41.4% of the visitors in August.
Pre-Pandemic visitors in Turkey
Prior to COVID-19 the demand from tourists in Turkey declined by mid-October, however, this year has seen things turned upside down as people were unable to book holidays due to the pandemic restrictions. The report also highlighted that according to tourism representatives, nobody from Russia has contracted the coronavirus after holidaying in Turkey, which is possibly the main reason fuelling the increasing demands.
Officials from Coral Travel Turkey who currently provide flights from 12 regions in Russia have said that they intend to continue their flights during the winter season. The general manager of Pegas Touristik, Anna Podgornaya, has revealed that they have prepared a new flight schedule which will cover all 12 months in the year.
Anex Tour have offered travel to Turkey all year round and will be sticking with this service without interruption. Azur and Pegas’ Red Wings Airlines, which both operate under the Anex Group, have also prepared their own winter season programs.
The Russia TUI subsidiary are set to continue with their charter flights from St Petersburg, Kazan, and Moscow to Antalya this winter. Recep Yavuz, the Chairperson of the Antalya City Council Tourism Working Group, divulged that there were 4,647 international charter flights to Antalya from abroad during September with flight occupancy reaching 91%. Yavuz confirmed that “No airport in the Mediterranean was as busy as Antalya.”
Tourist numbers in Turkey
Data provided by the Culture and Tourism Provincial Directorate in Turkey confirmed that tourist numbers were set to be over one million during September. In September there were 1.1 million visitors from 147 countries. These numbers were made up from 21,000 Turkish tourists who reside abroad, whilst 995,000 were foreign visitors. However, due to the worldwide pandemic, figures for this year are down by 54%.
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