Turkey, tourism in Istanbul

The number of tourists who decided to travel to Turkey soared by 3,000%

Despite the improvement in tourism, the numbers are still far from the millions of tourists who travelled to Turkey before the pandemic.

The number of foreign tourists traveling to Turkey, which plummeted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, seems to be on the way to recovering the old figures after visits soared more than 3,000% last May, according to the most recent data published this Friday by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Specifically, 936,282 foreign tourists entered Turkey in May, representing 3,038% more than the 29,829 who did so during the same month of 2020 – shortly after the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic and the first case of coronavirus was detected in Turkey – thanks to the progress of the vaccination campaign and the end of many travel restrictions, both in Turkey and in the countries of origin of tourism.

Despite these good numbers, they are still a long way from the 4 million tourists who visited Turkey in May 2019, before the pandemic. However, it is a positive figure considering that during the month of May the Eurasian country was under a total lockdown for 17 days.

By country, Ukrainians topped the list of foreigners who travelled to Turkey in May, with 236,000 visitors from that country; they were followed by Germans (95,000), Bulgarians (57,000), Iranians (44,000) and Iraqis (also about 44,000). If the period between January and May 2021 is taken into account, Russia was the main source of foreign tourists for Turkey despite the two-month suspension of flights imposed by Moscow as a result of the spike in infections in April.

Russia, France and Germany remove restrictions on travel to Turkey

Precisely this week thousands of Russian tourists began to arrive in Turkey – mainly to destinations in the Mediterranean such as Antalya – after the Russian government lifted the ban on travel to Turkey, where infections have fallen from the 60,000 daily that were reached in April, to 5,000 positives a day that are currently diagnosed. Between January and May alone, 571,000 Russians travelled to Turkey for tourism, 15.5% of all tourists in that period.

France has also removed Turkey from the list of countries on which it had imposed restrictions, removing the obligation of a 10-day quarantine for those traveling from Turkey to France; and since the beginning of June Germany did the same, also allowing from today to non-EU citizens – including Turks – to enter the country if they have received both doses of the vaccine.

Although many businesses in Turkey have suffered during the pandemic, the Turkish tourism sector is the one that has received the hardest hit, going from a total revenue of 29 billion euros in 2019, to just 10 billion last year, with a 69% drop in visits. With the good progress of vaccination in Turkey – one of the countries with the largest vaccinated population in the world – authorities expect to receive some 17 million tourists in 2021, and an income close to 17 billion euros.