According to figures published by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreigners visiting Turkey in March 2020 dropped by 67.8% to 718,097 from 2,232,358 in the same month of the previous year. This dramatic fall was as a result of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which has forced Turkey to restrict influx of foreigners. Starting with China on February 3rd, 2020, Iran on February 23rd, and Italy, South Korea and Iraq on February 29th, passenger flights from nearly if not all global destinations have been stopped during March.
The number of foreign visitors from OECD countries fell 65.9% in March 2020, whereas visitors from countries banned as from February have dried up. In April, no foreigners will be visiting Turkey for touristic purposes, and only foreigners with special permission will be allowed into the country. It is unlikely that Turkey will be opened up to foreign tourists before the end of May, until when lockdown regulations will continue to be enforced. Even if lockdown restrictions are relaxed in June, borders with some countries may remain closed and flights to and from many countries will remain closed. It therefore seems very unlikely that the Turkish will be in a position to accept foreign tourists at major resorts in particular this season. The cost to Turkey’s tourism industry and to the Turkish economy as a whole will be severe this year.
The total number of foreigners visiting Turkey in the first quarter of 2020 has fallen 22.1% to 4,238,644. The total number of foreigners visiting Turkey in the year 2019 had increased by 14.1% to 45,058,286 compared with the previous year. This figure was a record and before the coronvirus crisis Turkey’s tourism industry was expected to grow further this year and in the years to come. The pandemic has come as a big shock and it will take several years before Turkey will have recouped its 2019 strong market share. The tourism industry will need to adapt to social distancing requirements which may well continue even if a vaccine is found for coronavirus. The all-inclusive concept, which relies on open buffets, may have to be discontinued. The general average cost of a holiday abroad will also likely be more expensive, discouraging many potential tourists.