Turkey to attract most tourists in September, currency earnings to slump

Turkey will probably see the most tourists visiting the country in September and October even though there are plans to lift flight restrictions in mid-June, according to Firuz Bağlıkaya, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).

Most visitors to Turkey in June are likely to be businessmen, with small-scale tourist traffic expected in July, Bağlıkaya said, according to the Diken news website.

Turkey is seeking to re-open the country to tourists to gain vital foreign currency revenue and to revitalise economic growth as the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak eases. Turkey received $34.5 billion of tourism revenue in 2019, an increase of 17 percent from the previous year.

Bağlıkaya said foreign currency revenue from tourism will probably decline by between 60 percent and 70 percent in 2020, with the sector returning to normal next year.

“We think people’s motivation to travel will be low in the next three months,” he said.

Bağlıkaya said masks are likely to be mandatory on aircraft and tests for the coronavirus will be administered at airports, meaning people with children will probably be reluctant to travel. The tight restrictions will also add to tourists’ concerns about safety, he said.

The tourism season in Turkey may be extended to November to help minimise the impact of the big losses earlier this year, he said.

The first tourists to return to Turkey will be from Europe, Iran and the Middle East, with visitors from Russia, the most important market for Turkey, set to return at a later date because of the high COVID-19 infection rates in that country, he said.