Turkey is ready for post COVID-19 global travel boom
Turkey without question has emerged as one of the top nations that did not overreact to the outbreak. It took COVID-19 for what it was. Turkey successfully employed a measured approach that included a speedy vaccination program.
If we compare the situation in Turkey with that of many other global tourist hot spots, Turkey has made the right headlines both at home and overseas through the way it has promoted the sector.
39.5 million guests visited the country in 2018 – already a sensational number – which astonishingly climbed to 45.1 million the following year.
Despite COVID-19, Turkey saw a modest but nevertheless promising summer season in 2020 with 12.7 million foreign arrivals. However, it was certainly a serious drop, 71%, since 2019, on which more detailed analysis can be found here.
One can assume that the tourists that had already decided Turkey were the place to be would return and in fact, it had been estimated that on top of the repeat visitors there had been a further 10% rise of first-time visitors, hence the magical phrase "50 million incoming tourists" that made its rounds in government and industry circles in late 2019.
Today in light of COVID-19 and its aftermath, one hears guesstimates of an increase of 150% compared to 2020, thus bringing the expected total number to somewhere in the 30 million regions.
As long as there are no new unexpected overseas travel bans this is an absolutely realistic figure.
However, if we factor in millions of potential travelers who perhaps would have gone elsewhere but are impressed by Turkey’s track record dealing with the pandemic paired with the nation's leisure sector's outstanding world-class reputation, Turkey could very well see a total of anywhere between 30 million to 50 million international visitors in 2021.
Last year at the height of the first wave of confusion of how to deal with the novel virus, Turkey had already started not only to disinfect entire towns and city neighborhoods (unheard of in most other countries) but to certify its hospitality sector businesses and train their staff and managers.
Enhanced personal and public hygiene became the anthem and still is. Looking ahead to 2021 spring and summer observers on the ground can attest that hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality enterprises are fully prepared to welcome a steady flow of guests.
Hotel rooms undergo a complete and thorough cleaning and all the little free items we enjoyed so much but won't actually use have been removed. Social distancing will be meticulously monitored wherever required and contactless payments shall be encouraged. It is a country where every small village has at least one ATM and paying by card has all but become the default system anyway, ticking off the list those aspects of travel safety.
As long as general infection rates remain low then holidaying without the need for a PCR test should be the standard once again, not the exception. It was deemed safe to reopen the skies, at least for countries not on a "Red Notice" list, with mandatory mask-wearing.
It comes down to the individual traveler to adhere to the strictest hygiene and distancing measures possible and not fall back into "one hand-wash per day" mode.
As long as we accept responsibility for our personal hygiene and personal behavior toward fellow travelers then the nations that host us in 2021 may indeed see a return to a more normal holiday season.
Many regions of the world will vie for a large share of the global incoming tourism market as it gears up again, and so does Turkey.
Turkey is most definitely ready for another bumper season, and it may just well come out on top.