While travel and tourism worldwide have been disrupted in 2020, due to the advent of Covid-19, Antalya province seems to be bucking the trend. Figures released recently have shown the area is still attracting plenty of visitors, and hopes are high that this year’s season will continue into November.
The announcement by the British government of a two-week quarantine period for everyone entering England from Turkey, made at the start of October, meant many flights and holidays from the UK were cancelled. While potentially devastating for tourism in Antalya, the region has instead seen increased numbers of domestic tourists, as well as holidaymakers from Russia and Ukraine. Many overseas residents who own property in Antalya have also continued to visit, arranging alternative flights and changing travel plans.
Rising visitor numbers
The head of Antalya City Council’s tourism working group, Recep Yavuz, has reported that some 188,000 visitors came to the region from Russia and Ukraine during the first week of October alone.
“There were 1,206 direct flights from abroad to Antalya, 500 of which were from Russia and 200 from Ukraine,” he told Anadolu Agency. He added 220,000 holidaymakers had come to the province in September, which boded well for the rest of the tourist season. October figures so far suggest other popular holiday destinations, such as the Greek island of Rhodes and Mallorca in Spain, are attracting fewer visitors than Antalya.
The head of Turkey’s Professional Hotel Managers Association (POYD), Ülker Atmaca, has said it is hoped the British government will reopen its travel corridor with Turkey as the UK is an important contributor to winter tourism. Many people buy holiday villas and apartments in Antalya as a retreat, preferring the region’s temperate Mediterranean climate during the cooler months.
Atmaca also praised the resilience of the Turkish tourism industry in the face of adversity caused by the pandemic. “Turkish tourism put up a very important fight and has scored a major success,” he said. “It is great to be able to maintain our tourism business in a period when the world gave up and global tourism has come to a halt.”
A focus on safety for tourists
Key to Antalya’s success has been the Safe Tourism Certificate programme, which has seen numerous establishments and businesses introduce measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 and keep visitors and tourists safe. Airports, beaches, hotels and restaurants are among those who signed up to the initiative. The scheme has helped create a sense of trust, which has proved its worth in the rising visitor numbers.
“We worked and succeeded, even though it was very difficult,” says Atmaca. “The number of tourists coming to our country and our city continues to increase and every tourist leaves with joy.”
He added he expects visitors from Russia and Ukraine will continue to visit Turkey throughout October and November – beyond the ‘traditional’ end-of-season dates: “There are currently not many places across the world where people can travel and Turkey is one of the destinations that provides safe tourism services.”
In the first nine months of 2020, Antalya province has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors – an incredible achievement. The region’s world-renowned beaches, rich history and luxury holiday accommodation has continued to attract tourists determined to visit in spite of the pandemic.
The figures confirm Turkey’s place as a significant holiday destination around the world, says Kaan Kavaloğlu, vice-chairman of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB): “Turkey was the first choice among travellers from European countries, along with those coming from the Commonwealth of Independent States.”
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