According to figures published by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreigners visiting Turkey in September 2020 dropped by 59.4% to 2,203,482 from 5,426,818 in the same month of the previous year.
With restrictions on entries across borders and on international passenger flights having been largely lifted by the beginning of August, it has been hoped that the number of foreign visitors will recover substantially in the following months. Indeed, there was a noticeable improvement in September compared with previous months. Russian tourists, who have been allowed in as of August 1st, were recorded as 648,742 (a fall of 39.5%) in September. Visitors from the UK have held up well 262,352 (a fall of 24.7%) in September. Visitors from Germany on the other hand were down 80.3% to 123,147. Ukraine was a big surprise with an increase of 15.4% to 252,018. The number of visitors from OECD countries in total were 552,042 (a fall of 69.8%). Visitors from Bulgaria, who mostly come for cross-border shopping, also held up well with 232,324 (a fall of 23.1%).
The total number of foreigners visiting Turkey in the first nine months of 2020 has fallen 74% to 9,458,589. 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 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 as a whole will be severe this year.