Turkey says second wave of COVID-19 is an ‘econovirus’

The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on world economies may be a deciding factor in national policy decisions, Turkey’s Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told reporters on Sunday.

“I always say that the second wave (of the pandemic) is coming in the form of an econovirus,” Ersoy was cited by news website Artı Gerçek as saying, “and as such, every country wishes to take its own precautions.”

Last week, Germany listed Turkey among countries with an increased risk of infection from COVID-19, which will require travelers returning from Turkey to self-quarantine for 14 days, discouraging vacations in the country.

“There could be economic and political reasons for this,” Ersoy said. “European countries may have taken precautions to keep (tourism revenue) within Europe’s borders. They may be doing this indirectly.”

Turkey will share data on its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with Germany, with specific emphasis on the southern provinces that are favoured by German holiday makers, including Aydın, Muğla and Antalya.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu urged his German counterpart Heiko Maas to send health officials to Turkey to inspect hotels and other facilities in a phone call last week.

Ersoy said Çavuşoğlu and Turkish Health Ministry officials are planning meetings with German authorities to discuss the matter further.

There were fewer than 500 cases of COVID-19 in the tourist city of Antalya, and fewer than 300 each in Aydın and Muğla, other popular regions, Ersoy said. Hospitals in the said provinces also have high vacancies. “I believe everybody will see these facts, or rather be unable to ignore them,” the minister said.

It will be a success if Turkey would be able to get half of its hotels operational for the summer, Ersoy said. “But at least for 2021, early reservations have started and the numbers look good. I believe 2021 will be a very good for Turkey.”

Turkey is planning to implement rapid testing for the coronavirus at airports and border gates before July, Ersoy said.

Travel insurance policies for foreigners range from 13 to 23 euros for a week of vacation, he said. Turkey will make such policies available from July 1 onwards.

Turkey attracted 45.1 million visitors last year, amassing a record $34.9 billlion in tourism revenue, but lost 99 percent of visitors in May compared to the same month of 2019 as the country’s borders have remained almost completely closed since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic started to take hold.