Tourism injected late boost as Russia must resume flights to Turkey


Faced with the prospect of a second summer in the doldrums due to international travel restrictions, Turkey’s crucial tourism industry has received a late boost with the announcement that its largest market, Russia, is set to resume its flights.

In a long-awaited decision, Moscow announced on Friday that it would resume flights to Turkey from Tuesday, thanks to a series of COVID-19 preventive measures applied in the country.

The decision was taken during a visit by a delegation of Russian experts, which arrived last week to assess security measures at airports and accommodation facilities.

Moscow suspended most air travel with Turkey in April until June 1, a ban it then extended until June 21.

Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy called the decision “an indication of confidence in our country for safe tourism”.

“I hope we will reap the fruits of our diplomatic traffic with Russia and other countries in the coming period,” Ersoy said on Twitter.

The move is expected to spark a wave of Russian vacationers descending on Turkish resorts.

Industry representatives say they expect at least 1 million Russian tourists to arrive throughout the year, up from around 2.1 million last year and 6 million the year before. the pandemic.

Russians made up 20% of all foreign visitors in April, when Turkey welcomed 790,687 tourists.

They also topped the visitor list by country from January to April with 552,048. Some 2.7 million foreigners arrived in the four-month period, down 35.6% from a year ago. a year.

Turkey has launched safe tourism campaigns and special certification to ensure that tourists and locals are safe at airports and accommodation facilities.

Orhan Sancar, coordinator of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at Russian Pegas Touristik, said the first flight from Russia would take off at 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

“On that day, Pegas will operate 45 flights, including five to Istanbul and 40 to Antalya. Together with other tour operators, around 200 planes will land in Antalya in one day, ”Sancar told Turkish-language daily Sabah.

The sharp drop in daily COVID-19 cases and the recent sharp acceleration in vaccinations against the virus have also added to hopes for this year’s summer season.

Turkey administered more than a million vaccines a day last week. Daily cases have dropped significantly to less than 6,000, from a record high of over 60,000 in April.

Molton Hotels President Ibrahim Halil Korkmaz said the recent record pace of the vaccination campaign has yielded results.

“We have a number of daily vaccinations approaching 1.5 million. The Department of Health does a very dedicated job. It opened the door to Russia for us, ”Korkmaz said.

“Likewise, we believe that the good news will come from Europe,” he noted.

“We have said from the start that the tourism movement depends on a drop in the number of cases and an increase in vaccination,” said the president of the Hoteliers Federation of Turkey (TÜROFED), Sururi Çorabatır.

“We have now started to catch this,” noted Çorabatır. “The first good news came from Russia. We are also awaiting good news from Europe.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also highlighted the success of the mass vaccination campaign on Saturday, expressing hope that the country will achieve higher figures in the tourism sector this year.

“Our country has gradually started to move away from travel restriction lists. We welcome the decision taken by Russia, after France, in this direction, ”he declared.

Last week, France removed Turkey from the red list of countries it had imposed travel restrictions on amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It has also dropped the mandatory 10-day quarantine process for passengers traveling from Turkey to France.

Another important market, Germany earlier this month removed Turkey from its list of high-risk countries.

Berlin on Thursday said it would allow travelers from non-European Union countries who are fully vaccinated to enter the country from June 25, which covers Turkish citizens who have received both doses of the BioNTech vaccine.

Germans are booking vacations again at higher rates than in 2019, with particularly strong demand for Spain’s Balearic and Canary Islands, as well as Turkey and Greece, TUI Group said last week, the largest vacation group in the world.

“We will be able to ensure that our tourism professionals seize this opportunity at least in the second half of the 2021 season,” said Erdoğan.

The number of foreign visitors fell 71.7% year-on-year throughout 2020 and topped 12.7 million, according to official data.

The sector’s revenues fell 65.1% year-on-year to $ 12.06 billion (TL 101.14 billion).

“Our main goal is to win back the number of 52 million tourists in 2019 as soon as possible, and then to reach 70 million,” the president said.

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