Early bookings from Europe are boosting the Turkish tourism industry's morale for the upcoming summer season, according to sector representatives.
Mehmet İşler, deputy chairperson of the Turkey Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the bookings will add momentum to the sector, which has been one of the most severely affected by the pandemic.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollouts are also driving hopes for the new year. During 2020, the industry was unable to reach its full potential due to worldwide travel restrictions, flight cancelations and nationwide lockdowns.
Turkey has had significant success in fighting against the spread of the virus and stimulating the tourism industry with its Safe Tourism Certificate, initiated at the very beginning of the emergence of virus cases in the country.
The positive signs from Europe come after similar signs from Russia, one of the main tourism markets for Turkey.
On the European side, Turkey seems to be one of the top choices for German tourists, while the United Kingdom market has also gained momentum.
İşler, who is also the chairperson of the Aegean Touristic Enterprises and Accommodations Association (ETIK), said 2020 was a good year despite the pandemic, although they did not reach the expected number of tourists.
He added that the sector survived the COVID-19 year of 2020 with timely steps and supports and better management than its competitors, like Spain and Greece.
The advantages gained through last year are expected to be maintained this year as well, he added.
İşler noted that according to a tourism and travel report published in a Spanish journal, Turkey grabbed a 24% share of early bookings from Germany.
"There is a serious demand for Turkey," he added, stressing that the Safe Tourism Certificate program was one of the main reasons behind it.
He said people are becoming more confident because of the vaccine and a better understanding of the virus. İşler added that it is obvious that more tourists will arrive this year compared to 2020.
"Many people in Europe stayed in their homes under lockdowns and they now want to see the sun. People are eager to take vacations and also thanks to the safety boost given by the vaccine rollouts," İşler said, noting that there are currently no travel restrictions for Turkey from Russia, and they expect a serious rise in demand in the U.K. market toward mid-May. "Then the demand from Europe will also continue," he said.
Noting that they expect some 30 million tourists to visit Turkey by year-end, İşler said they are preparing for the new season at full speed since the "worst days are behind us."