EU’s continued travel restriction for Turkey unfair, says foreign minister
“Some nations have been favored because they have good political relations with the bloc even though the figures for coronavirus cases in those nations are not very good. This is wrong,” Çavuşoğlu said at the Healthy Tourism and Safe City event in the Alanya district of the southern province of Antalya, also attended by Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
“If you ignore Turkey, where conditions are far better, but favor the countries and put your citizens at risk, then your own citizens and your own media react to this decision,” Çavuşoğlu added.
It is political and unfair to keep Turkey in the list, the minister added.
Turkey started to implement comprehensive measures swiftly after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the country, said Ersoy, noting that ambassadors and members of the foreign press were recently invited to Antalya to see the Safe Tourism Certification Program for themselves.
“They hailed the program and they said this is a very successful and well-worked plan,” Ersoy noted.
He elaborated that Turkey reaped the benefits of its investments in the health industry over the years during the pandemic.
The minister also noted that the number of confirmed cases in Turkey’s major holiday destinations are lowest in Europe, adding that Turkey has started work to relaunch international flights.
Ankara previously expressed its disappointed by the European Union’s decision to exclude it from its safe list and called on the bloc to correct the “mistake” as soon as possible.
“Turkey’s efforts, measures and achievements made to stem the outbreak of coronavirus are evident. This decision should’ve been taken with objective criteria and while considering the country’s success, which was cited as an example by the World Health Organization and the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on July 1.
Last year, more than 45 million foreign tourists visited Turkey, up from the previous year’s 39.5 million.
In May this year, foreign tourist arrivals plunged 99 percent on an annual basis to around 30,000 while the number of international holidaymakers fell by 66 percent to 4.3 million in the first five months of the year.