Turkey receiving record flow of Russian tourists

Tour operators are hoping for tourist influx in the winter as well

Turkey receiving record flow of Russian tourists
Photo: Konstantin 'KVentz' Ventslavovich, 2019

Turkish resorts are welcoming an increased number of Russian tourists, as for Russians, Turkey is now the only available foreign destination. The Turkish tourism industry, which has faced a decline in visitors from European countries, counts on a longer mellow season this year.

Many operators bringing Russian tourists to Turkey are planning to proceed with charter flights during the winter, reports Hürriyet Daily News stating that no coronavirus cases have been detected among the Russian tourists on their return. Turkey remains one of a limited number of tourism destinations the Russians are allowed to fly to. Direct scheduled and charter flights between the two countries were resumed in August, and now tour operators are receiving bookings for November and December.

“October reservations have made us happy. We will have a nice winter if flight bans are not re-imposed,” considers Head of Turkey’s Professional Hotel Managers Association Ülkay Atmaca. Antalya, the Turkish tourism industry’s heartland, welcomed 4,647 charter flights with 91% load in September. The destination outpaced its Spanish and Greek competitors in the Mediterranean region. According to Antalya City Council’s Tourism Group President Recep Yavuz, the number of flights to Mallorca amounted to 2,868, to Crete — 2,004 and to Rhodes — 1,026.

The number of Russian tourists that arrived in Antalya increased by 37% month on month in September and exceeded 500,000. However, the total amount of foreign tourists in the region last month was by 54% less than in September 2019, as the influx of British and German tourists reduced significantly. Overall, Antalya hosted almost a million people from 147 countries in September.

The number of Russian tourists in Antalya exceeded 500,000 in September. Photo: pixabay.com

According to Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the whole country hosted 5,4 million foreign visitors in the first seven months of 2020, almost five times less than in the same period of 2019. The ministry expects the number of tourists to reach 15 million this year, resulting in $11 billion of tourism income, which is nearly a third of last year’s revenues. By comparison, Turkish resorts and tourist spots attracted 45 million foreign tourists in 2019. Russia accounted for 7 million of these tourists, and most Russians (6 million) chose Antalya as a destination.

Meanwhile, many Russian tour operators are going to continue flights to Turkey during the winter. Pegas Touristik and Coral Travel are planning to proceed with winter season flights. Anex Tour will also continue operating Azur Air flights, but the frequency will be decreased from November. TUI Russia is planning to end flights from Novosibirsk at the end of October and from Rostov-on-Don in November but keep flights from Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kazan in their winter schedule. “Tourists will enjoy summer in Turkey in October and November as well, when the psychological barrier about the second [coronavirus] wave is left behind,” reads a recent statement by the Association of Tour Operators of Russia.

By Anna Litvina