Russian tourist influx going beyond summer

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Tour operators bringing Russian tourists to Turkey have been receiving bookings for November and December, while many operators are planning to continue charter flights during the winter next year.

“Tourists will enjoy summer in Turkey in October and November as well, when the psychological barrier about the second [coronavirus] wave is left behind,” said the Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) in a recent statement.

Since no coronavirus cases has been detected among the Russian tourists on their return and there is only a limited number of tourism destinations the Russians are allowed to fly to, the tourism season in Turkey will extend toward the new year. Russia resumed direct scheduled and charter flights to Turkey in early August.

“Antalya is among exceptional holiday destinations in the world nowadays. October reservations have made us happy. We will have a nice winter if flight bans are not re-imposed,” said said Ülkay Atmaca, the head of the Professional Otel Managers Association, yesterday.

The Turkish tourism industry’s heartland has outpaced its Spanish and Greek competitors in the Mediterranean region this summer, hosting 4,647 charter flights in September.

“Load factor of planes in September was 91 percent. The number of flights to Mallorca was 2,868, to Crete 2,004 and to Rhodes 1,026,” said Antalya City Council’s tourism group president Recep Yavuz.

The number of Russian tourists that arrived in Antalya, more than half a million, increased 37 percent on a monthly basis in September, he added.

On top of that, some 170,000 Ukrainian tourists were welcomed in Antalya last month.

Overall, some 995,000 foreign tourists from 147 countries visited the Mediterranean province in September, marking a decrease of 54 percent compared to September 2019. British tourists, who flocked to the city in July, followed Russians and Ukrainians with 81,000 visitors. Germany, traditionally one of the top tourist source countries of Turkey, sent over 81,000 tourists to Antalya last month.

Tour operators making new plans

Last year, 7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey and 6 million of them arrived in Antalya. Overall, the Turkish resorts and tourist spots attracted 45 million foreign tourists in 2019.

This year, however, Turkey hosted 5.4 million foreign visitors in the first seven months of 2020, down from 24.7 million in the same period last year, the Culture and Tourism Ministry data showed.

According to the ministry projections, the number of foreign tourists this year can hit 15 million, bringing $11 billion of tourism income, nearly a third of last year’s revenues.

Coral Travel, which operates flights from 12 departure points in Russia, are planning to continue carrying tourists during winter months, company officials said.

Anna Podgornaya, general manager of Pegas Touristik, also said that they have been working on a schedule program for the winter season flights to Turkey.

Anex Tour will continue operating Azur Air flights to Turkey, although decreasing frequency starting from November.

TUI Russia is planning to carry on flights from Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kazan during winter, ending flights from Novosibirsk at the end of October and from Rostov-on-Don in November.

Hurriyet Daily News

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