Turkey gears up efforts to lift travel restrictions from Europe
Turkey has geared up efforts to lift travel restrictions imposed by European nations to benefit from the looming tourism season as the foreign and tourism ministers are bound for Germany to promote virus-free touristic facilities which they introduced to around more than 50 ambassadors and foreign media over the weekend.
“We are obliged to continue our dialogue with Germany. We will visit [Germany] together with our Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. Our minister has penned a letter about this issue and explained all the measures taken by us,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a press conference in the southern province of Antalya over the weekend, accompanied on a visit by foreign diplomats and journalists.
Çavuşoğlu said he spoke with his German counterpart Heiko Mass for the establishment of a joint experts’ committee so that they can observe all the measures imposed by the government and the touristic resorts against the novel coronavirus. “We feel disappointed over certain issues, but I don’t think they will negatively affect our bilateral relations,” he added.
Despite Turkey’s intense diplomatic efforts, travel restrictions imposed by many European countries have not been lifted, giving a blow to the country’s tourism sector. Çavuşoğlu and Ersoy have long been busy in improving the virus-free qualifications of the Turkish tourism sector and providing assurances to countries like Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands that send most tourists traditionally.
In this regard, Turkey singles out Germany in its efforts because of the country’s influence in the continent and of the fact that it sends around 6 million tourists annually. In addition, Germany is home to nearly 3.5 million Turks who tend to visit their homeland during the summertime.
“There are 3.5 million Turks living in Germany and many of them want to visit their country. Our president has also spoken about it with [German Prime Minister Angela] Merkel. Some criteria regarding the healthcare system and facilities to be provided to the tourists need to be set by experts,” he said.
Turkey’s exclusion unfair
In the name of solidarity, the EU countries are advising their citizens to visit EU countries although many of them have poorly performed in responding to the coronavirus, the minister recalled.
“We should separate political issues from other issues,” he said, describing Turkey’s exclusion as unfair.
Envoys and foreign media invited to Antalya
As part of the efforts to promote the safeguards taken by the government, the Tourism Ministry hosted ambassadors and foreign media representatives to Antalya over the weekend, under the #returkey concept.
A conference dubbed the Safe Tourism Certification Program was held by Ersoy to the guests that detailed all the 130 criteria taken by the ministry and relevant governmental bodies.
Ambassadors and senior diplomats from prominent European countries, like Germany, the U.K., Belgium, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands and Russia as well as from other continents have participated in the two-day tour.
British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott who attended the tour with his wife shared a picture of his wife at Antalya Airport where they were greeted by the Turkish authorities.
“My wife at Antalya Airport where this welcoming heart helped us keep the right social distance. Seeing at first hand the impressive measures being applied to make air travel and hotel stays safe from Covid-19,” Chilcott tweeted, along with a picture of his wife.