Turkey will host more than 6 million Russian tourists in 2018, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has predicted.
“It seems that the number of tourists coming from Russia will exceed the 6 million figure in 2018, when we look at early booking figures of the tour operators that dominate the Russian market,” Kurtulmuş told state-run Anadolu Agency during a visit to Moscow on March 14.
He added that he met 20 tour operators on the sidelines of the 25th Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition.
“Recently a very serious political crisis was experienced [between Turkey and Russia],” Kurtulmuş said, while adding that there is “no alienation between the people of both countries.”
“The most concrete example of this is the 2017 tourist figures,” he said, noting that 4.7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2017.
Work on visa-free travel
Kurtulmuş also said Russia is working on restarting visa-free travel for Turks, which was suspended after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet over an airspace violation in November 2015.
“We have requested this. I see an understanding on this issue and hope we will get the result,” he said, adding that this would be “in the interests of Russia and Turkey.”
Later on March 14, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that Moscow and Ankara had discussed the visa issue.