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Turkish Tourism Sector Suffers Huge Losses

Turkish Tourism Sector Suffers Huge Losses

Saturday, 1 May, 2021 - 07:15
The most renowned Istiklal Street in Istanbul is almost deserted due to the low number of visitors and lockdown measures amid COVID-19 pandemic. AP

Turkey’s tourism sector has incurred huge losses during Q1 2021, in light of the remarkable decline in foreign tourist arrivals and revenues, data showed on Friday.

Turkey’s tourism revenues fell 40.2 percent and foreign visitor arrivals dropped 53.9 percent during the period between January and March, Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) said.

In the first quarter, revenues dropped to $2.45 billion, TurkStat noted.

In 2020, tourism revenues fell by 65 percent to $12.059 billion, which highlights the impact of the coronavirus-driven travel restrictions on the sector.

Meanwhile, the number of Turkish people who travelled abroad during the past tourism season also dropped during Q1 2021 by 84 percent.

The measures aimed at containing the pandemic in Turkey proved to have negative implications on tourism, which is crucial to foreign currency flows.

According to data published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), tourism directly accounted for 7.7 percent of total employment in 2018. “Total tourism income represented 3.8 percent of GDP,” it added.

Earlier this week, Turkey announced “full lockdown” to curb the COVID-19 spread.

“Turks will be required to stay mostly at home under a nationwide full lockdown starting on April 29 and lasting until May 17,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday.

Under the restrictions, which span the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and the three-day Eid holiday, residents are banned from leaving their homes except to shop for groceries or to meet other essential needs. Intercity travel requires special permits.

However, millions of people were exempted from the stay-at-home order. In addition to health sector workers and law enforcement officers, they include factory and agriculture workers as well as supply chain and logistics company employees. Tourists were also exempted, while restaurants are allowed to deliver food.

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey estimated that some 16 million workers in the country of 84 million would continue to be on the move during the lockdown.

The streets of Ankara and Istanbul were quieter than usual. Nevertheless, workers exempted from the bans filled subways and buses in Istanbul, broadcaster Halk TV reported.

Police patrolled the streets and set up checkpoints at main intersections to ensure that residents who were out and about had documents proving they are exempted from the stay-home order.

Gendarmerie police were, meanwhile, stopping vehicles to ensure passengers had the necessary permits for intercity travel, causing long lines of vehicles.

The lockdown is the first to be implemented nationwide and lasting nearly three weeks. Erdogan’s government had previously imposed partial, shorter-term lockdowns or weekend curfews in a bid to reduce the closures’ impact on the economy.

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