Antalya is hitting the news headlines again and its popularity is growing with the number of Russian tourists to the area predicted to top 5 million by the end of this year the tourism association have stated on 24th October. The Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers’ Association spokesperson Erkan Yağcı said “these figures indicated a much stronger tourism season this year in 2017 compared to 2016 in the province”
Speaking at the Turkey-Russia Media Forum, Erkan Yağcı said: “Antalya’s tourism growth was up 60% compared to 2016”. He added “the region’s best years in tourism saw 12 million visitors in the 2014-2015 seasons and were almost matched by 2017’s performance and could be exceeded by the end of the year”
The resort of Antalya took a hit last year due to a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia in 2016 after Turkey shot down a Russian jet on the border with Syria. During the crisis, Russian arrivals plunged nearly 85% in 2016 compared to the previous year which was a huge blow for tourism in Antalya.
At the forum, Turkish and Russian tourism representatives discussed how to further boost the tourism ties between the two countries. Atlas Global Chair Murat Ersoy said “scheduled flights between Turkey and Russia must be increased and most importantly, the visa-free regime should be resumed to boost the arrivals from Russia to Turkey,” he commented, adding that a “passport-free regime would be even better.”
Murat Ersoy, whose airline has flights currently from 14 destinations in Russia to Antalya, also recommended the use of local currencies in tourism ties between the two countries. Regarding visa liberalization, the head of the Public Forum of the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturizm), Sergey Markov said “Moscow was open to discussing this while stressing that security concerns mainly arising from the war in nearby Syria must be resolved first”
Sergey Markov also said “Turkey’s health services and insurance services to Russian tourists should be increased” this would be a great incentive for Russian visitors. “In addition to this, the number of Turkish tourism workers who know the Russian language must be raised. Even in hotels where 90% of the guests are Russians, there are often not any workers who speak Russian,” he added.
It appears that the Russian tourism sector is making high demands of Turkey for future tourists visiting Turkey. Antalya does draw huge numbers of Russian holidaymakers and Turkey would be looking to increase this in the coming years and forge a strong alliance with Russia.
On the 18th October in Ankara at a protocol signing ceremony, the Turkish Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said: “We will become the health tourism centre for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Russia”. Demircan and Culture Minister Numan Kurtulmuş attended the cooperation protocol signing ceremony to promote Turkey as a health hub abroad. In addition, a 24/7 hotline in six languages English, Russian, French, Arabic, German and Farsi is also now operating, Demircan said. That should help strengthen Russian and Turkish ties.