Holiday bookings for Turkey's touristic hot spots for July and August by European travelers have skyrocketed, industry representatives said, as resorts say they are ready to offer a safe and “controlled” vacation to travelers.
Kaan Kavaloğlu, a board member of the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) and Tourism Investors Association of Turkey (TTYD), told Anadolu Agency (AA) Monday that the sector is experiencing a new beginning as resorts complete preparations to open doors to post-lockdown travelers with new coronavirus preventative measures in place.
“We have to be able to guarantee a safe holiday opportunity to our guests, both domestic and international,” he said.
Kavaloğlu noted that the industry is expecting European tourists to make a comeback once the borders are opened. Kavaloğlu added the European Union’s initial plan of resuming tourism season within the bloc is not ideal for many of its citizens, who still prefer Turkey’s Mediterranean coasts, the resort city of Antalya in particular, as their favorite holiday destination.
“Our foreign guests did not cancel their bookings for July and August. In fact, we secured a significant number of reservations from the European market,” he added.
Each year, Antalya hosts more than 4 million German tourists, whose travel plans carry crucial importance for the recovery of Turkey’s tourism industry due to their high population and generous holiday rules.
Turkey allowed the reopening of hotels and other touristic spots and resumed domestic flights and intercity travel on June 1 and is set to open doors to foreign tourists as of mid-June, according to the tourism ministry.
Kavaloğlu stated that Turkey succeeded in managing the crisis by taking strict measures and quickly closing borders, and it now needs to decide which nations will be allowed to travel to the country.
“Protocols between countries and flight planning carry extreme importance,” Kavaloğlu said, adding that the country’s priority will be to guarantee people virus-free, safe tourism. He said the industry is ready to apply strict safety measures to ensure a great experience for visitors: “Our guests will enjoy their vacations without even noticing some of these safety measures. Our goal is the holiday our guests have dreamed of.”
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry recently announced new mandatory measures for the industry and set health and hygiene criteria for airlines, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes.
As part of the new measures, COVID-19 testing centers are being set up at airports for incoming visitors. Passengers in terminals will also be required to wear masks and temperatures will be taken upon arrival.
At hotels, the temperatures of the customers will also be checked, and they will wait at the reception desk while abiding by social distancing markers. Front desk personnel will have to wear visors and face masks.
The glasses in the hotel rooms will be disposable from now on and the rooms will be disinfected after the customer leaves the hotel. Products such as the television remote control will also be wrapped in disposable bags.
Tables in restaurants will be arranged in accordance with social distancing rules, and customers will no longer be allowed to take food from “open buffets.” Instead, the food will be served by the restaurant staff.
The number of people who are allowed to enter the swimming pools and beaches will also be limited depending on the size of the facility, to prevent overcrowding, and hotel staff will regularly warn customers to maintain social distancing even in the water.
FOREIGN SETTLERS TO TOURISTS: TURKEY IS THE SAFEST OPTION
Foreigners who have settled in Turkey's southern resort city of Antalya's Alanya district have also praised Turkey’s performance handling the pandemic and called on their fellow citizens not to be concerned about their safety in the country.
Many of Alanya’s 32,000 foreign residents chose not to be evacuated to their home countries during the pandemic, saying they feel safe in Turkey due to its strong health care system.
Anastasia Petrova Çetinkaya, a Russian national who settled in Alanya some 10 years ago and became a dual citizen in 2018, said many tourists are waiting for borders to reopen to come to Turkey for their summer holiday.
“Turkey is the only country, where the health sector is not experiencing a crisis because of the virus. That’s why I keep assuring Russians not to worry about coming here,” Çetinkaya said.
Elena Soufianova, who has been living in Alanya for more than two decades, also said the resort city is waiting for Russian tourists to return this summer. “There is so much friendship and love between these two countries. Both Turkish people and Russians are looking forward to the opening of the borders.”
Nina Yüksel, an Alanya resident for 10 years and a business owner, said the Turkish health ministry has taken the situation under control. “My message for tourists is not to be afraid. We are waiting for your arrival.”
Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian tourism official advised its citizens to choose Turkey for their summer holiday destination, saying the country is “the safest option.”
Vladimir Tsaryuk, the head of Ukrainian Tourism Development Agency, told Ukrainian media on Monday that they are planning to resume charter flights between Ukraine and Turkey’s touristic cities in mid-July.
He said the hygiene and safety measures taken in Turkey’s resorts Antalya, Alanya, Kemer and Dalaman are of the highest standards and added that Ukrainians can travel to these destinations without any concern.
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