Turkey seeks meeting with Russia on tourism after flight ban

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Turkey has proposed to Russia that its officials visit the tourist hub of Antalya next month to inspect measures taken to ensure the safety of Russian visitors, TASS news agency reported on Tuesday.

Last month, Russia, the number one provider of tourists to Turkey, restricted flights to and from the country between April 15 and June 1, citing the dangers posed by a surge in COVID-19 cases. The decision by Moscow came during bilateral tensions over Turkish political and military support for Ukraine.

The Turkish government sent an invitation for the visit last week, said Mehmet Samsar, Turkey’s ambassador to Russia, according to TASS. A meeting of a Turkish-Russian working group on tourism safety scheduled for April was postponed, he said.

Turkey is seeking to attract more tourists to the country to help bolster economic growth and to earn vital foreign currency revenue. A slump in income from tourism contributed to a slide in the value of the lira against major currencies last year.

Almost 7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2019. That number fell by 77 percent last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Last week, Turkey tightened a lockdown on the population to contain infections from the virus, which reached a record of more than 60,000 daily cases in April. New infections have declined to less than 30,000.

The number of people visiting Turkey fell by an annual 54 percent to 2.6 million in the first quarter, according to official data published last week. Earnings from tourism dropped by 40 percent to $2.45 billion.

The Turkish lira is trading near record lows due to concerns among foreign investors and local deposit holders about economic and financial stability in the country. It was trading down 0.4 percent at 8.35 per dollar on Wednesday. The currency hit an all-time low of 8.58 per dollar in November.

Germany and Britain, two other leading sources of tourists to Turkey, are urging their citizens to stay away. Visitors must quarantine on their return.

Ahval

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