Turkey, Greece discuss developing joint Aegean tours for distant destinations: Minister

Turkey, Greece discuss developing joint Aegean tours for distant destinations: Minister

Umut Erdem - BERLIN
Turkey, Greece discuss developing joint Aegean tours for distant destinations: Minister Ankara and Athens are developing plans to create joint tour packages for distant destinations, such as China and India, Turkish Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal has said following meetings with his Greek counterpart, Elena Kontoura.

“I got together with my Greek counterpart a short while ago. As the world has been shrinking, many regional countries have started to define themselves as a part of the region they are in,” he said at one of the world’s leading travel trade shows, ITB Berlin, on March 9. “With my Greek counterpart, we asked why we should not create joint tour packages together by promoting our region in distant destinations, such as China or India. Yes, this is possible as we live in the same region and have a common culture.”

Ünal said Turkey would be one of the most significant tourism hubs in the world in terms of richness of product diversification. 

He said it was possible for Turkey to reach its 2023 targets of 50 million tourists and $50 billion of tourism revenue. 

Several trade deals were signed in the fields of tourism, construction, telecommunications and more between the countries during Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to İzmir on March 8.

New support package ‘on way’ 

Ünal also promised another support package to boost Turkey’s tourism sector, which has recently been hit by a decrease in the number of Russian tourists and rising security concerns. 

“I met with our labor and social security minister, Süleyman Soylu, and a number of civil servants late March 7. We developed a mini support package on easing employment and labor conditions in the tourism sector … We will share the details, which aim to improve conditions in the sector, with the public in the coming days,” he added. 

The government announced an action plan on Feb. 22 to support the sector. The package included a 255 million-Turkish Lira ($87 million) grant and several mechanisms that will enable tourism firms to restructure their debts.

Ünal thanked tourism representatives for their cooperation to aid the sector. 

“In the last two months, our tourism representatives have started a huge advertising and promotional campaign together and conducted hundreds of meetings with their foreign counterparts,” he said. 

Turkey participated in the 50th ITB Berlin Fair with a pavilion on a 3,000-square meter area. Last year, around 175,000 people visited the fair. The fair hosted more than 127 attendees this year. Turkey was the guest country of the fair in 2010, while this year’s guest was the Maldives.