Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has announced a new initiative to certify tourist attractions as ‘coronavirus-free’ when the ongoing pandemic dies down.
Officials in the tourism haven believe that cases in the country will continue through April and early May before numbers go down.
Ersoy said the normalisation phase in Turkey could begin as early as the second week of May.
He assured tourists and Turkish citizens alike that the government was carefully observing the situation. Industry representatives hope to see the tourism sector mobile by the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with tens of millions visiting each year to experience historical sites dating back millennia and pristine Aegean beaches, among other attractions.
Ankara aims to make the certification an international standard in dealing with the normalisation process across the world.
The certification system will include three pillars: transportation, facilities, and passengers who use the previous two pillars.
Under the programme, Ersoy emphasised the importance of sterilising vehicles, hotels, airports, restaurants, agencies, museums and historical sites. Tourism industry staff will also need to obtain an immunity certificate and pandemic training.
Within the facilities, such as hotels and beaches, there would need to be adequate spaces to ensure proper social distancing, safety personnel, and thermal control systems to observe the temperature of tourists and staff.
An immunity certificate would also be required of international visitors, Erso explained.
“This will probably be an example to the world that we have developed. By gradually including all NGOs in the commission, we aim to finalise this certification system quickly in the first week of May,” he said.
Turkey’s tourism industry
In 2019, 51.8 million people visited Turkey with the number set to climb further in 2020. As part of Ankara’s Vision 2023 programme, the government hopes to attract 75 million tourists by 2023.
Istanbul, the cultural and historic capital of Turkey, and Antalya were at the top of the most visited destinations. Both of these cities hosted nearly 30 million tourists last year.
Globally tourism is set for a hard year due to the pandemic, with some industry insiders warning that a 20 to 30 percent drop is likely.
International travel has been hit by the cancellation of flights by countries seeking to contain the COVID-19 virus.
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