Life & Leisure

Turkish tourism pegs hopes on summer revival after pandemic setback

By Lara Villalon

Istanbul, Jun 29 (EFE).- Despite being on several countries’ lists of high risk travel destinations, Turkey hopes this year’s tourist season will fare better after last year’s dramatic losses, although they are still expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

“The situation has improved a little compared to last year. People seem to be traveling more, we are at 15 percent occupancy, but it is very difficult to survive,” Erkan Diler, a hotel manager in the Turkish resort city of Antalya, tells Efe.

Turkey’s daily Covid-19 infection rate is around 66,000 per million inhabitants, more than double the number in the European Union, leading Germany and Bulgaria, as well as the United Kingdom, to maintain warnings against traveling there.

Russia, which accounts for the highest number of inbound arrivals in Turkey with about 15%, resumed flights to the Eurasian nation a few weeks ago, following a coronavirus-induced suspension since April.

Resuming flights from Russia has seen an immediate boost in bookings. Three million Russians are expected to arrive between June and September on the Mediterranean coast, according to the Association of tour operators (ATOR).

“There is a massive demand to go to the Turkish coast. Air traffic has risen 30%,” said Mehmet Issler, vice president of the Turkish Hoteliers Association (Türofed), according to the Sabah newspaper.

People traveling to Turkey are required to present a negative PCR test but are not required to quarantine, despite the fact that Russia registered a new record of coronavirus deaths this week and currently has an incidence rate that is five times higher than Turkey’s.

Ankara only applies a 14-day quarantine to visitors from eight countries, none of which are among the 20 that visit it the most.

Turkey, which lifted a three-week total lockdown in early June during which only essential services were allowed to open, managed to reduce the number of infections from 65,000 a day in April to 6,000.

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