According to figures published by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreigners visiting Turkey in December 2020 dropped by 67.4% to 699,330 from 2,147,878 in the same month of the previous year.
Despite Turkey’s general willingness to accept tourists even in face of the second wave in the coronavirus pandemic appearing in the autumn, the reluctance of people to travel and risk catching the virus has had a detrimental effect on global travel. Indeed, as in the case of Turkey, many of the foreign visitor arrivals now come for reasons other than touristic. In December, a large proportion of foreign arrivals to Turkey were from Bulgaria (102,222) who briefly visit for cross-border shopping, from Russia (90,378) who have property in the Antalya area in particular, and from Germany (47,150) who have close family, business, property and other ties to Turkey.
The total number of foreigners visiting Turkey in the year 2020 has fallen 71.7% to 12,734,213. Of this total, the highest number of foreign visitors were from the following countries : Russia (2,128,758), Bulgaria (1,242,961), Germany (1,118,932), Ukraine (997,652), UK (820,709), Georgia (410,501), Iraq (387,587), and Iran (385,762).
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 hygienic and social distancing requirements which may well continue even after vaccine programmes have been implemented. The general average cost of a holiday abroad will also likely be more expensive, discouraging many potential tourists. The cost to Turkey’s tourism industry and to the Turkish economy has been severe in 2020.