‘Safe tourism’ is the message from Turkey for this summer. Flights between the United Kingdom and Turkey have recently re-started, with Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and Easyjet among the carriers to resume their service.
The number of flights is expected to increase in July when, as expected, the two governments sign an ‘air bridge’ agreement, which will allow holidaymakers to travel without having to quarantine when arriving in Turkey or when they return to Britain because their destination is regarded as “low-risk.”
Since the start of June, everyone arriving in Britain has had to self-isolate for two weeks. The policy is currently under review and the government is expected to make an announcement about it next week.
Turkey, which managed its coronavirus crisis more effectively and suffered far fewer deaths, has lifted its international travel restrictions. Turkish officials announced health requirements for travellers to Turkey two weeks ago, ahead of the first resumed flight between the UK and Turkey on 11 June.
As things stand, passengers travelling from Britain to Turkey do not need to take a PCR test beforehand. Everyone arriving in the country is being tested for coronavirus.
Thermal cameras and remote thermometers measuring the temperature of passengers are installed in all Turkish airports. Anyone showing symptoms of high fever, coughing or respiratory difficulties will be referred to the airport medical unit for medical evaluation under the control of the Turkish Ministry of Health.
Those who pass temperature checks are required to self-isolate at home for a period of 14 days in June, but that is set to change with the country easing its lockdown measures for the holiday season.
Masks, however, are likely to remain compulsory in public places outside of hotels and resorts, such as on public transport, in supermarkets, barbershops and hairdressers, and on beaches. In some cities and towns, masks must be worn the moment you leave your home or accommodation.
There is an on-the-spot fine of 900 TL (approx. £105) for those found without a face mask on.
Soldier in face mask stands guard at one of Turkey’s top landmarks: Anıtkabir / Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara, 23 April 2020
While containing the coronavirus pandemic remains a primary concern, Turkey is keen for its economy to resume some form of normality.
Travel and tourism accounts for about 13% of the country’s national income and as part of the drive to encourage tourists to visit Turkey this summer, last week Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy launched the country’s new ‘Safe Tourism’ scheme.
The two-day event in Antalya, held on 19-20 June, was attended by ambassadors and international media, who were informed about Turkey’s new Safe Tourism Certification Programme.
Hotels, cafés, restaurants, and those involved in the transportation of tourists can apply for accreditation and will be awarded a certificate if they meet the Turkish government’s stringent requirements. The measures include everything from sanitisation to social distancing, aimed to maintain the confidence and wellbeing of both locals and visitors.
Turkey’s Covid-19 record has been successful compared to many other European states. It’s had 192,000 cases, of which 164,000 have fully recovered. A total of 5,025 people have died from coronavirus.
Minister Ersoy pointed out that the number of Covid-19 cases is particularly low in key tourist districts, including Antalya, Kuşadası and Bodrum, and emphasised the strong health infrastructure in these areas:
“Thanks to our thousands of healthcare professionals working here, these cities are health as well as tourism centres.”
To give further peace of mind to travellers, Turkey would also be offering a special Covid-19 health insurance package, with three tiers:
“As of July 1, we have created a health insurance package that includes Covid-19 for our foreign guests visiting our country. All health expenses up to €3,000, €5,000 and €7,000 can be covered within the scope of €15, €19, and €23 insurance packages, which can be purchased through contracted airlines, various sales points before passport control, tour operators, and online channels.
“Our guests can feel comfortable – just like the Safe Tourism Certificate – we are thinking about all these details on their behalf.”
More information is available on the new Safe Tourism website, which includes a list of accredited travel businesses.
Main image, top, of Paradise Beach Sand, Kaputas, Antalya, Turkey © 1001Love / iStock