Turkey has moved up four places in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Development Index to rank 45th among 117 countries in 2021.
Turkey’s score also increased 1.3 percent in 2021 from 2019 to 4.2. Overall scores range from 1 to 7, where 1 is the worst and 7 is the best.
The country’s tourism industry expects to welcome more international holidaymakers this year as most nations eased travel restrictions, which were introduced amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the COVID situation has improved in Turkey.
Foreign tourist arrivals in Turkey already soared 173 percent to 7.5 million people in January-April from a year ago.
In April alone, nearly 2.6 million foreign tourists visited the country, marking a staggering 226 percent increase compared with the same month last year.
Earlier this month, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy reiterated that Turkey aims to host 42 million foreign tourists and raise $35 billion in tourism revenues this year, up from $24.5 billion in revenues and 30 million tourist arrivals in 2021.
The picture looked very different two years later, as COVID-19 lockdowns hit the travel and tourism (T&T) sector hard. In 2020 alone, it faced losses of $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs, impacting the living standards and well-being of communities across the globe, the WEF said.
“The war in Ukraine has added to instability and economic disruption for the sector. Against this backdrop, the WEF’s inaugural Travel and Tourism (T&T) Development Index reflects the growing role of sustainability and resilience in T&T growth, as well as the sector’s role in economic and social development more broadly.”
The T&T sector is a major driver of economic development, global connectivity and the livelihood of some of the populations and businesses most vulnerable to, and hardest hit by, the pandemic, it said, adding that therefore, supporting T&T development and recovery, which in turn will help the global recovery, build resilience and support all of those who depend on the sector for work, will be critical.
“The T&T sector has faced difficult operating conditions but shifting demand dynamics have created opportunities and a need for adaptation: In the shorter term, challenges such as reduced capacity, geopolitical tensions and labor shortages are slowing recovery.”
Japan topped the WEF’s list, followed by the U.S. and Spain. France and Germany ranked fourth and fifth.
Meanwhile, Japan announced on May 26 that it will reopen to tourists from 98 countries and regions starting June 10, ending a two-year pandemic closure, but travelers will only be allowed in with tour groups.
Foreign tourist arrivals in Japan fell more than 90 percent in 2020 from a record 31.9 million the year before, almost wiping out the pre-pandemic inbound tourism market of more than 4 trillion yen ($31 billion).