Turkey’s tourism industry could generate $15 billion (TL 110 billion) by the end of 2020, a senior industry representative said, as the sector slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic with a rising number of international arrivals.
Birol Akman, chairman of the Anatolian Tourism Operators Association and board member of the Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), told Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday that the country could no longer reach its pre-pandemic goal of receiving 60 million tourists this year.
Yet, he added that the strict implementation of social distancing and other safety measures could help the tourism sector recover from the crisis faster.
Akman noted that the industry could see earnings as high as $15 billion by the end of the year if tourists continue to arrive at this level and the pandemic remains under control with no second wave.
According to official figures released last week, Turkey’s most popular tourist destination Antalya welcomed more than 1 million tourists between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19 from 31 countries. While nearly 300,000 Ukrainians preferred the city for their holiday, 281,000 tourists came from Russia, followed by 221,000 Germans and 85,000 British tourists.
While the sector enjoys a rising number of tourists, the figures are nowhere close to that of the previous year. In 2019, tourism revenues hit $34.52 billion and nearly 52 million visitors arrived in the country, a rise of 13.7% from 2018. The Mediterranean resort city Antalya alone received more than 15 million visitors from 193 countries, setting an all-time tourism record.
However, Akman said he is hopeful that the tourism sector will recover thanks to the country’s success in both keeping the pandemic under control and its efforts to offer a safe tourism experience to visitors.
He said 50,000 tourists arrive in Antalya each day and 90% of hotels reopened their doors due to the high mobility of tourism activities in the city.
“Some might think rules have been loosened in the Mediterranean region, but that’s not true. Inspections continue and health measures are still in place,” he said.
He also stressed that Turkey is the safest place for tourists to travel to and to receive medical treatment if the need arises.
Isolation rooms at hotels for COVID-19-positive tourists
Meanwhile, the Tourism and Culture Ministry announced a revision in its Safe Tourism Certification Program and said tourists that test positive for the virus during their vacation could isolate inside the hotels where they were spending their holiday.
According to the new decision, hotels with a safe tourism certificate are required to provide patients who tested positive during their holiday with a safe isolation room.
The decision to stay at hotels will be up to the visitors if hospitals deem that they could recover in isolation without additional medical care. COVID-19-positive tourists will not be allowed to leave their room until they test negative for the virus.
Hotels are obliged to reserve one isolation room for every 50 regular rooms. They are also not allowed to accommodate COVID-19-positive visitors with others on the same floor or they must leave at least two rooms next to the isolation room empty.
Patients will also have special personnel, who will not leave the hotel’s premises and will receive health screenings regularly, according to the new changes.
Hotels that do not follow the new amendments will lose their safe tourism certificate and will no longer be permitted to operate during the pandemic, the ministry said.