Turkey’s Mediterranean coasts and historic attractions face a critical week as the government presses to open borders and salvage the tourist season battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told Reuters he hoped the world’s sixth-largest destination could attract up to half of last year’s 45 million arrivals.
But much depends on talks to begin flights from Russia, Germany and Britain – also hard hit by the virus – which should
reach some conclusions by early next week, he said.
To convince foreigners and their governments that travel is safe, Ankara launched a “healthy tourism” program including health and hygiene checks, and more than 600 hotels have applied for certification. It is lobbying some 70 countries with a focus on the European Union.
The flights are beginning to trickle in, including from the United States.
Such hotels “cannot survive with only Turkish tourists,” Ersoy said in a June 19 interview.
“The next 10 days will be critical as decisions are made on borders … so far it’s not clear how international traffic will start.”
Asked whether tourism would be halted if foreigners sparked new outbreaks, he said “we have to watch the numbers” and decisions would be taken with a separate scientific committee.
Turkey hopes top tourist source Russia will start flights in mid-July. Second-place Germany has a coronavirus travel warning until the end of August but could lift it sooner.