The resort town of Antalya in southern Turkey continues to be the Mediterranean’s most popular tourist destination, welcoming the most tourists to the region.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Antalya welcomed 8.6 million visitors in 10 months with its capacity of 680,000 beds. The province has attracted tourists from more than 60 countries, mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Kazakhstan, Romania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with relaxed travel restrictions.
Erkan Yağcı, President of the Association of Mediterranean Tourism Hoteliers (AKTOB), told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the Turkish tourism industry has demonstrated to the world the possibility of safe tourism even in pandemic conditions, through cooperation between the public and private sectors.
The Safe Tourism Certification Program launched last year in coordination with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Health and relevant authorities has helped attract many tourists to the city and the country.
As a result, Turkey has taken a series of measures at airports, transport facilities, hotels and other tourist establishments. The program sets out a series of measures in various fields to regulate accommodation, transport, health of travelers and facilities for employees. Information on these measures was shared with foreign diplomats, tourist agencies and members of the press, who were able to review the measures on the spot.
Yağcı said they plan to reach the 9 million tourist mark this year, adding that the region has had a much better season than last year. He noted that the Safe Tourism Certification Program has played an important role in this success.
“At the end of September, Antalya received twice as many tourists as Spanish Mallorca, which we consider to be the strongest competitor. While the islands welcomed 3.5 million tourists, we saw 8.5 million visitors arrive. There is a significant effort from both the public and private sectors. It was a significant success to initiate the tourism movement during the pandemic and make it sustainable. I think we got there, ”he said.
Ülkay Atmaca, head of the Association of Professional Hotel Managers of Turkey (POYD), said the tourist flow to Antalya continues despite the season being over, adding that bookings for 2022 signal a better winter season.
“Antalya is on the way to becoming a world leader. It is one of the cities in the world that receives the most tourists. We started a bit late but we recovered very quickly, ”he said.
Antalya City Council Tourism Working Group Chairman Recep Yavuz said 2021 is seen as the year of recovery for tourism. He added that countries that have taken appropriate action against COVID-19 and successfully advertised have overcome this process.
He cited Spain as an example, saying that despite ranking first in the world with the most tourists in 2019, it has failed to recover quickly.
He added that another strong competitor, Greece, was unable to meet expected tourist arrivals due to inadequate health infrastructure. “According to the ranking of countries (in the Mediterranean), Turkey ranked first, Spain second and Greece third. We have overtaken our biggest rival, Spain, during the pandemic process. It was difficult to take on the leadership, but it is even more important to be sustainable, ”he said.
Turkey’s tourism revenues jumped 181.8% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, following a significant drop last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) announced last month. .
The country earned $ 11.4 billion (TL 110.94 billion) in July-September, up from $ 4 billion in the same period last year, when the COVID-19 crisis resulted in restrictions travel and lockdown measures, stopping global tourism.
The figure was $ 14 billion over the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus started.