Ankara initiates phone diplomacy for tourism
A letter of intent prepared by the Turkish tourism and foreign ministries will be sent to their counterparts in tourist source countries as of May 11, Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told broadcaster CNN Türk.
“The letter includes the details of our certification process. We have also written the details of Turkey’s health infrastructure, which prioritizes us as a success story, especially in the tourism provinces and districts,” he said, adding that tables with the figures of public and private hospital bed capacities, intensive care units, ventilators, ambulances and ambulance aircraft are attached to the letter.
“Afterwards, the foreign minister and I will start a phone diplomacy with our counterparts,” he said, pointing out that 70 countries have been targeted initially.
They will focus on procedures to start flights between Turkey and those countries during the phone conversations, Ersoy said.
Germany can be among the countries sending tourists in the first phase of reopening in the Turkish resorts, he said, also referring to some Asian and Central European countries.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Health Ministry is planning to establish COVID-19 test centers at tourist destination airports Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen, İzmir, Dalaman, Bodrum, Antalya and Gazipaşa, as well as at the border gates, said Ersoy.
All the people will be tested on arrival to the country starting from June, he added.
The Turkish government has started a process to certify the measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus at the airports, transportation vehicles, tourism facilities, restaurants, museums and archaeological sites, according to a written statement on May 8.
Social distancing and hygiene rules, anti-pandemic training of staff members and other measures will be documented in the certificates, which are planned to be announced as of June 1.
Internationally audited certificates will be available to visitors via QR codes put up at those places.
“It is not an obligation to get a certificate, but we recommend it. The certification lists will be sent to tour operators, online tourism websites, travel agencies and governments regularly,” Ersoy told CNN Türk.
He added that the hospitality sector will revive with domestic tourism and boutique hotels before the multi-star hotel chains.
Ersoy denied reports that buffet stations and banquet services at hotels would be halted, saying that visitors will be served food by a waiter instead of helping themselves.
The Turkish Hoteliers Association also announced on May 8 that all-inclusive holiday packages are being sold with extra health measures.
When asked about his estimate of tourism numbers, “We shouldn’t have high hopes. If we can open some 50-60 percent [of tourism facilities], I would deem it as a success in the transformation period,” he said.
After attracting a record number of visitors with 51.9 million people in 2019, Turkey was targeting a total of 60 million tourists in 2020 before the coronavirus crisis.
The country’s tourism revenues hit $34.5 billion in 2019, a new record high, according to official data. The figure jumped 17 percent last year, up from $29.5 billion in 2018.