Visitors flock to Turkey, large rebound in foreign arrivals in May


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The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey rebounded sharply in May from a year ago due to the so-called base effect as coronavirus-related travel restrictions are gradually eased across the world.

Some 936,282 tourists arrived last month, a jump of 3,038% from 29,829 in May 2020, data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed on Friday.

The figure was still a fraction of the 4 million that came in 2019 before the pandemic hit.

Turkey began closing its borders and restricting activities when its first case of COVID-19 was recorded in March 2020.

Month after month, arrivals increased in May despite a full 17-day lockdown to stem an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Arrivals during the January-May period were still down 14.27% to 3.68 million, down from 4.29 million a year ago, the data showed.

Some 12.75 million tourists arrived in the five-month period of 2019 before the pandemic struck.

The Ukrainians led the nation’s list in May with 236,000, followed by Germany with 95,000, Bulgaria with 57,000 and Iran and Iraq with around 44,000 each.

The country’s leading source of tourism, the Russians led the way in the first five months despite a two-month suspension of flights imposed by Moscow over concerns over an increase in COVID-19 cases in April.

Thousands of Russian tourists started arriving in Turkey this week after Moscow lifted the flight ban, raising hopes for a recovery in tourism income this year.

Among other things, France has removed Turkey from the red list of countries on which it has imposed travel restrictions.

It has abandoned 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 said this week 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 Pfizer vaccine. -BioNTech.

Some 571,000 Russian tourists came from January to May, representing 15.5% of all arrivals during the period.

They were followed by Ukraine with 423,000, Germany with 280,000 and Iran with 238,000, according to the data.

The blow to tourism has hampered economic growth and exacerbated an increase in the current account deficit.

While many businesses have suffered during the pandemic, tourism has been crushed: in 2019, it brought in $ 34.5 billion and nearly 52 million visitors. In 2020, arrivals fell 69% and revenues fell to around $ 12 billion, according to the Tourism Ministry.

The outlook has been revived by a sharp drop in daily coronavirus cases to around 5,000 from a peak of over 60,000 in April, as well as an acceleration in vaccinations.

Turkey’s rapid inoculation campaign has seen more than a million doses delivered per day over the past week.

The Tourism Ministry is forecasting at least 17 million arrivals and around $ 20 billion (TL 173.87 billion) in related revenue this year.

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About Ariella McGuire

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