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Turkey’s tourism sector looks towards domestic market

Tourism in Turkey

If there are no new COVID-19 restrictions, Turkey’s tourism sector is optimistically looking to have what could be their ‘best season of the century’ amongst Turkish nationals, as Turks are expected to flock to resort cities for their holidays.

In recent years, the Turkish tourism industry has looked to local tourists as a lifeline throughout turbulent times. Turkey is waiting to hear when flights will resume from the top tourist markets such as Russia and the UK, and so locals may come to the rescue once again.


Local shops reopening

The government last week announced the easing of measures further, thanks to the declining daily COVID-19 infection rates. This easing encompassed of partially lifting a weekend lockdown and reopening businesses, including but not limited to restaurants and cafes.

Since most Turks have had to delay their holidays or had them delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, local tourism agencies are expecting to see a boom in internal mobility. An owner of a travel agency was quoted as saying: “Without new restrictions, the best season of the century could be seen in the domestic market. There would be over 50% increase over 2019.”


Delay or cancel holidays?

During 2020, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, a leading tour operator experienced almost 300,000 cancellations or requests to delay. The owner of the operator said that since July 2020, around half of resorts in Turkey opened, and it was the domestic tourism that helped to keep them ‘on their feet’.

The owner noted that: “Following the full lockdown, mobility has picked up again. We are seeing way more growth than planned. Last year was also a busy year, but then the restriction came.”

However, industry experts warned that in the next few days, prices could soar by as much as 40%, and this trend could increase even further in 2022, with the opening of the larger international market, stressing how important foreign visitors were from countries such as Russia, the UK, and Germany.


International travel to Turkey

Moscow revealed last week that it would not be allowing any tourists to travel from Russia to Turkish resorts or cities until June 21 at the earliest. This comes after Russia suspended most air travel to Turkey in April until June 1, using the rising infection rate as its reasoning. This decision blocked the plans of approximately 500,000 tourists who had been planning to visit Turkey during the period of April to June.

A delegation from Russia is due to arrive in Turkey soon to assess what measures Turkey had taken in order to protect the airports, hotels and other popular tourist and holiday locations from COVID-19 before a decision will be made as to whether the travel ban should be lifted.


A step in the right direction

However, in more positive news, Germany removed Turkey from its own list of high-risk countries. Turkey has been a top destination for German tourists for many years, but the arrivals fell drastically due to the travel restrictions and quarantining measures in place because of COVID-19. An expert said: “It is not possible to open all the hotels in Turkey until the main markets such as Germany, the UK and Russia are opened.”

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