Turkey hopes to recover tourism industry after 20-month shutdown

Turkey recently began welcoming tourists for the summer season after 20 months of closures that devastated the country’s important industry, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

As restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic loosen with the proliferation of vaccinations and previously suspended Russian civilian flights resume to the country, Turkey’s Antalya region is once again opening up to tourists.

“We have been closed for about 20 months. We were very pleased with the lifting of flight restrictions by Russia, ”Murat Ozbalat, general manager of the Ananas hotel in the popular tourist town of Alanya, told AP.

Ozbalat’s business relies heavily on Russian tourists as they represent an average of 80 percent of its guests. He also hopes that the “gradual lifting of restrictions from Europe” could make the summer of this year much better than the dreary season of last year, when tourism to the country came to a halt thanks to the pandemic. .

In 2019, according to the country’s tourism ministry, Turkey’s tourism industry earned around $ 34.5 billion from nearly 52 million visitors to the country. In 2020, however, revenues plunged to around $ 12 billion.

“We are talking about a… sector that has been inactive for a year,” Hamit Kuk of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies told AP.

“There is a loss of over $ 20 billion.

Besides being a major source of income, Turkey is also heavily dependent on tourism to bring foreign currency into the country at a time when the national currency, the Turkish Lira, is reaching record levels.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan hopes the country’s tourism industry can revive this year, saying the government “will ensure that tourism professionals can use at least the second half of the 2021 season.”

He made these comments during the opening of a new hotel in Antalya.

“We are aiming to get a much bigger slice of the tourism pie,” while recovering from the huge losses of last year, he said.

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