Tourists from the Middle East are returning to Turkey, attracted by a cheap currency and quarantine-free travel, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Turkey is seeking to lure visitors back to the country to revive its troubled tourism industry and to finance a current account deficit that widened to more than 5 percent of economic output last year.
Arab tourists are choosing Turkey because they are threatened with quarantine in Gulf countries for failed COVID-19 tests and face restrictions on travel to Europe, Reuters said.
“You don’t have to go to Europe. It is a lot more expensive… and they still have some restrictions,” said Omar Zahra, a 48-year-old Jordanian, according to Reuters. “This is the best place to go for price, culture, nature, food and weather.”
Zahra spoke during a boat tour on Istanbul’s Bosporus strait, where nine Jordanians were sipping coffee and taking photos of Ottoman palaces. His sister Muna Abuzahra asked the tour guide whether the boat would pass by the Abud Efendi Yalısı, a waterside villa where the Turkish TV series “Noor” is filmed. “Noor” is one of the most popular TV series in the Middle East.
Turkey is also seeking to lure back Russian tourists to the country. It agreed with Russia to lift travel restrictions in June, helping to spur a partial revival in the industry. Turkey’s tourism sector traditionally accounts for more than 10 percent of the economy.