Published on : Friday, April 30, 2021
The daily number of new COVID-19 infections in Turkey has declined from more than 60,000 to 43,000 in the past week. However, in spite of that, the Turkish government is no longer taking any chances. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a strict “full lockdown” that will be in effect from April 29 till May 17.
Many businesses, restaurants and cafes will be closed, and Turks will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential food shopping or for medical reasons. They will have to get consent if they wish to travel between cities.
However, foreign tourists will be excused from these rules. Turkey Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has said that the country’s “most visited and important museums and archaeological sites” would remain open.
“In some ways, being a tourist in Turkey is beneficial,” said Ersoy.
A strict lockdown now will recover the season later. Turkey is especially popular with tourists from Russia and other parts of Europe, including Germany.
Turkey’s economy is already in crisis, and the resorts and hotels on the Mediterranean and Aegean coast cannot afford another year like 2020. Last year, tourist numbers dropped by around 15.9 million people, with the tourism sector witnessing losses of €8.3 billion ($10.1 billion). Revenue dropped by 65%, and more than 320,000 people lost their jobs.
Losses are particularly high in Antalya, an extremely popular tourist destination on the southern coast. Instead of the average 15 million annual visitors, only 3 million tourists visited the place.
Mehmet Isler, the chairman of the Aegean Touristic Enterprises and Accommodations Association said disappointingly, “We were counting on 30 million tourists for this year. […] But then there were party conferences all over the country in March and the number of infections shot up. Now there are more restrictions because of COVID-19. All of a sudden, our expectations and goals have vanished.”