Turks furious over video boasting of 'vaccinated staff' for tourists

A development initiative by Turkey’s Tourism Ministry published a video on Thursday evening to entice foreign holidaymakers to spend their summer in the Turkish Riviera, the country’s southwestern coast.

The Safe Tourism Türkiye initiative captioned the video with, “Sanitized resorts and vaccinated staff! We call it: Double Safety for Tourism!” The video was deleted shortly after drawing fury from social media users.

In the video, workers in various areas of the tourism sector are seen wearing bright yellow masks emblazoned with the words, “enjoy - i’m vaccinated”.

Some tourists are also seen sporting masks, but many of them have their faces uncovered.

“This summer, we have all our staff vaccinated,” a narrator says in the video.

The video ends with two emblems that read, “Certificate of safe tourism” and “Vaccinated for safe tourism”.

“Deliver us from another conservative government that would write ‘enjoy - i’m vaccinated’ over the face of a woman to market her,” academic Tuğçe Varol said.

“Like an animal,” one Twitter user responded, posting a video of a stray dog with an ear tag.

Turkish municipalities spay and neuter stray dogs and vaccinate them against rabies, after which they mark the dogs with ear tags that show they are safe to be around.

Radio host Zeki Kayahan Coşkun tweeted, “Dear Tourists; I've been vaccinated against internal and external parasites. You can adopt me. I don't bite. UuuuuuuUuuuuUuu”

“The non-vaccinated Turks won’t be allowed around you. Have a great holiday!” quipped another user, referring to Turkey’s recent strict restrictions on the general population while giving exemptions to tourists.

Efforts have focused on reviving tourism in the country, which lost 65 percent of revenue from the top sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu signalled the start of the current campaign last week, when he told reporters “anybody tourists could see” would be vaccinated by the end of May.

Çavuşoğlu’s comments, made during a press briefing with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, had drawn much ire on social media, evoking images of rabid dogs again.

The minister “can’t act in a diplomatic manner even when he is belittling the people”, analyst Kerim Has had reacted, while social media users called for collars, tags and ear tags saying “safe for tourists”.

“I would like to congratulate you on at last treating Turkish citizens as brood stock, this is the most insulting a state can be to its own citizens,” a Twitter user said.