Turkey hopes virus-free tourism certification will lure back visitors

Turkey is expecting to restore the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a new coronavirus-free certification programme for the industry, the U.S.-based news outlet Media Line said on Sunday.

Turkish Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said on April 19 that the ministry would give certificates to COVID-19-free businesses. 

The certificate programme draws support from the opposition, the Media Line said.

“We support the certificate programme,” the news outlet quoted Ahmet Aras, mayor of the popular Aegean resort of Bodrum and a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party, as saying.

“Tourists will prefer more hygienic destinations than others … After COVID-19, the concept of normal will change.”

The certificate programme includes hygiene training for workers, plans for the sterilisation of vehicles, hotels, airports and restaurants, and requirements for visitors to provide health documents, according to Aras.

The outbreak has already taken its toll on Turkey's tourism sector, which generates approximately $30 billion in revenue, with hotels recording a large number of cancellations for the coming season, the country's Tourism Advisory Board said.

But the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies said tourism could still rebound should the virus diminish by the start of the all-important summer season in June and if travel bans were lifted internationally, according to the Media Line.