Photo: The once-busy Grand Bazaar in Istanbul closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Workers in protective gear are disinfecting the bazaar on March 25, 2020. Kemal Aslam/Shutterstock

Islamic Lifestyle

Turkey to launch ‘healthy tourism certification’ as COVID-19 slashes foreign arrivals by 67% in March

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry will launch a “healthy tourism" certification programme throughout the 2020 summer season, state news agency Anadolu Agency reported on Monday (May 11).

The announcement of the programme comes after the country was hit by a 67.83% plunge in foreign arrivals, to 718,097 in March compared to 2,232,358 in the same month in 2019, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Foreign arrivals for the first quarter were down by 22.11% compared to the same three months last year, to reach 4.24 million versus 5.44 million. Tourism income dropped 11.4% year-on-year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

The healthy tourism certification programme will cover health and hygiene standards for airlines, airports and other transportation facilities, accommodation, and food venues, said Anadolu Agency citing the culture and tourism ministry.

The ministry aims to start implementing the certification process for hotels as of May, with certified facilities to be listed online from June 1.

Daily newspaper Hurriyet reported on May 12 that the 103 criteria for tourism venues include hotels having to arrange for social distancing, receive payments via contactless methods, provide visitors with disposable items in their rooms, and ensure tables at restaurants are at least 1.5 metres apart, with chairs at least 60 centimetres apart.

Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines has extended the suspension of all its flights until May 28.

Tourism is a major earner for Turkey that welcomed 51.86 million visitors in 2019. Tourism income for 2019 reached $34.52 billion, a growth of 17% compared to $29.5 billion the previous year. Visitors spent around $1.1 billion on food and beverages, about $655.6 million on clothes and shoes, and $605 million on accommodation.

Pre-novel coronavirus pandemic, the Turkish government had set a target of 58 million visitors and $44 million in tourism revenues for 2020.

Turkey had 141,475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 13, with 3,894 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

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