Last summer was a fiasco for him tourism in Turkey, one of the most important sectors of the economy in the country. Due to the restrictive measures most tourists did not move.
According to the Turkish Statistical Service (TUIK), the tourist reduction was of the order of 70% compared to 2019, ie 15.9 fewer tourists. This year only a few Turkish tour operators believe that this season will be better, reports DW.
But as hope dies last, good news has sparked a spark of hope in the industry that money will be in their coffers again this year. As the positivity index (cases per 100,000 inhabitants in one week) dropped to 51 cases, the German Foreign Ministry decided to remove the Turkey from the list of areas after the highest rates of contagion and to evaluate it as a “risk area” “, thus removing travel restrictions. From June 6, anyone returning from Turkey will not have to enter compulsory quarantine.
Will more German tourists come?
After this pleasant development, many travel agencies, hotels and resorts hope to welcome many German tourists. Ferdi Σ Σenel, President of the Turkish Travel Agents Association (COOP TRR) in Germany, is optimistic. “The number of infections is steadily falling, those tourists who return need a negative test from Turkey, while those who have been vaccinated do not even need a test. All this contributes to the increase in demand, due to the relaxation of travel restrictions, we are seeing an increase in the percentage of bookings “. Senel adds, however, that one will have to wait and see how the situation develops from June to August. And there is always the risk of mutations that will determine the end result. “Nevertheless, if the current trend continues, we hope that the many bookings will continue in the coming weeks.” Cem Polatoglou, representative of the Turkish travel agencies platform, is less optimistic, and points out that the increase in recent bookings was for last minute customers.
“In the long run, we expect far fewer tourists compared to the pre-pandemic years. We are not going to approach the level that will allow us to balance the losses. The amounts will not be the same as in the 2019 season. At that time we had revenues of around 55 billion dollars from 36 million tourists, of which 5.5 million were Germans, another 5 million came from Russia. It is impossible to reach this level. “ According to Polatoglou, one could feel happy if it reaches the same level of the first year with a pandemic, ie around 10 million tourists. “This year the tourist season will start later, we hope it will go until September, October and maybe November, so that we can cover part of the losses.”
Hoping for Russian tourists
However, he believes that the easing of restrictions by the German government gives a glimmer of hope. “We hope to host German tourists in our hotels soon, maybe even until November. “But in order to achieve an upward trend in the tourism sector, Russian tourists must also prefer Turkey again.” From mid-April to June 12, the Kremlin has imposed restrictions, Russian tour operators will not have offers for travel to Turkey. But the restrictions may be lifted soon. The Turkish Ministry of Tourism has announced that a delegation from Russia is expected to form an on-site image of the health protocols in hotels and tourist accommodation. But Polatoglu believes the decision to ban tourism is politically motivated and that the NATO summit on June 14 and whether President Erdogan will take a pro- or anti-Russian stance on some crucial political issues will be crucial.
By May 17, all businesses had to remain closed, including restaurants and cafes. Citizens were not allowed to move, except in exceptional cases. With these strict measures, the Turkish government tried to reduce the number of cases in order to save the tourist season. For many tourists from Europe and Russia, Turkey is one of the most attractive tourist destinations. Usually tourism brings valuable foreign exchange to state coffers and revitalizes the troubled economy. But as long as the pandemic lasts, one cannot talk about an ordinary tourist season.