- Drop in COVID-19 cases, vaccination wave encourages sector
- Russia halted tourist flights to Turkey on April 15
- Tourism revenues fell by two-thirds last year
ISTANBUL, June 22 (Reuters) – Thousands of Russian tourists began arriving in Turkey on Tuesday, raising hopes for its tourism sector after a two-month suspension of flights imposed by Moscow over concerns over an increase in COVID cases -19 in April.
Turkey’s tourism outlook has been revived by a sharp drop in daily coronavirus cases to around 5,000, from a peak of over 60,000 two months ago, as well as an acceleration of vaccinations to over one million per day. Read more
The first plane arrived in Antalya from Moscow around dawn, carrying 132 passengers. Some 12,000 Russians were due to arrive on 44 planes on Tuesday in the Mediterranean tourist hub of Antalya, state news agency Anadolu reported.
“Over the past two weeks, we have seen better numbers and a better trend in daily bookings. Russian tourists are very keen to come to Turkey,” TUI Fun & Sun Hotels CEO Volkan Simsek said at a Monday evening tourism online meeting.
“Likewise, the daily bookings we are getting from the German market are encouraging. The Russian market is doing well, the German market is doing well,” he said, with the Germans due to arrive from early July.
Some 2.13 million Russians visited Turkey last year, the highest level of any country, but down from 7 million in 2019. The number of German visitors fell to 1.1 million l last year, compared to more than 5 million in 2019.
Russia halted most flights to Turkey on April 15 and announced last week that they would resume on June 22. read more
Tourism revenues plunged two-thirds to $ 12 billion last year and got off to a tentative start in 2021 as COVID-19 hit an industry that typically accounts for up to 12% of the economy and is essential to reduce the current account deficit. Read more
Simsek predicted that the UK tourist market would open after mid-July and the tourist season would be extended until the end of November, but a full recovery would take longer.
“I don’t think it will be possible to make up for the losses of the last two years in the next six months. That will only be possible when everything returns to normal in 2023.”
Due to expectations, the number of hotels open this year was around 90% in July, up from 50% last year.
“For the month of July, we are planning an additional 75 flights. We are very pleased with the developments as a company,” said Max Kownatzki, CEO of SunExpress.
Fraport TAV Antalya Airport General Manager Bilgihan Yilmaz said its passenger traffic will double and could triple this year compared to 2020.
Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans
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