Holidaying in Turkey: greatly desired
Turkey has managed to halt the exponential rise in infections of the third wave of the pandemic in its tracks, and bring the incidence rate back to under 100, by imposing a stringent lockdown from the end of April until mid-May (extended until June in some places). This is not only a good sign for the people of Turkey, but also for tourism. Although tourists weren't affected by the lockdown measures, the fact that restaurants and cafés were closed, the high infection rate and the resulting feelings of insecurity, meant that the first few months of 2021 were a disaster for the tourism industry.
The same can be said for 2020 as a whole: the number of visitors to Turkey dropped by around 70 percent and revenues fell to just about two-thirds of the previous year, 2019. Tourism is an important part of the Turkish economy, generating five percent of its gross domestic product, providing employment for eight percent of people of working age and bringing in foreign currency. Due to the nation's negative balance of payments, these are all important factors for the Turkish economy.
For this reason, Turkey is prioritising the vaccination of workers in the tourism industry, with the aim of encouraging visitors to return. The majority of workers in the tourism sector will have been immunised by the end of May. The country is also implementing extended precautionary measures, intended to ensure that tourists can travel safely (as we've reported).
Of course, whether tourists will return is not just down to what happens in Turkey itself: the countries from which they depart must also make it easier to travel. Russia, the most important source country for people travelling to Turkey, cancelled the majority of flights from April until the beginning of June. Germany, the second-most important market, has issued a travel warning for Turkey. Travellers returning to Germany must present a negative PCR test.
The future of the travel industry in Turkey continues to depend on the vaccine roll-out and the associated increasing relaxation of pandemic measures in other countries. However, Turkey has prepared itself well for the return of sun-, sand- and sea-lovers.