Turkey’s tourism sector was expected to shrink by over 70% in 2020 due to the pandemic, but hopes remain high for 2021 amid global vaccination programmes. In a step to encourage more health tourism, the Turkish Health Ministry subsidiary International Health Services Inc. (USHAŞ) has also signed a cooperation protocol in health tourism with Georgia’s Health, Labour and Social Services Ministry.
Turkey expects to end 2020 with US$11 billion in tourism revenues and 15 million foreign travellers. This compares to 2019 numbers of US$34.5 billion and 51.9 million visitors, which was a rise of 13.7% from the previous year, and was made up of 86.2% foreigners and 13.8% Turkish citizens residing abroad.
The target for 2021 is between 30 and 31 million foreign tourists.
With the launch of vaccination programmes in Turkey and Europe, and other parts of the world, it is hoped foreign tourists will again visit Turkey, but returning to pre-COVID-19 conditions will take time.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry launched a “Safe Tourism Certificate” programme in 2020, implementing measures at airports, accommodation facilities and beaches to curb the spread of the disease.
Turkey is now open to many medical and health tourists, although medical travellers from some countries are still excluded. From Syria, Turkey is only receiving patients with critical conditions such as heart and liver disease, and cancer.