Turkey hopes health certificates will help tourism bounce back - Reuters

Turkey is hoping that a new “healthy tourism certificate” programme will help its vital $35 billion tourism sector to rebound this summer after it has taken a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters said.  

The new certificates will be awarded by international institutions and will set criteria for health and hygiene in airlines, airports and across other transportation, as well as at hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes.

“The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists,” Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told Reuters. He said Turkey planned to open at least half of the country’s hotels this year.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Turkey ranked sixth globally in tourist arrivals in 2018. A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) found that tourism accounted for 12 percent of Turkey’s economy, which is now facing its second recession in two years. 

Turkey shut its borders in March as part of measures to tackle the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but is set to resume some international flights next month. 

The Turkish government is intensively lobbying 70 countries to convince them that Turkey will be a safe destination as it gradually eases its lockdown measures, Reuters said. 

Ersoy told Reuters that COVID-19 testing centres were being set up at airports.

“Those guests who come without having been tested in the last 72 hours will all be tested,” he said. 

Passengers in terminals will be required to wear masks, and temperatures will be taken with forehead thermometers, Reuters said.

The Dutch-Turkish airline company Corendon said it hoped to launch a summer package in late June, whereby Dutch holidaymakers will be tested for the virus before flying and will remain restricted to hotel grounds.

But Reuters said there were worries among some in the Turkish tourism industry about the level of international interest.

“We have to be realistic, this will be a slow process,” Erkan Yağcı, chairman of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Investors Association, told Reuters.

“The opening of 50 percent (of hotels) in July would be a big success in my opinion.”