Despite worries over the possible fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war on the tourism industry, hopes are running high among Turkey’s hoteliers that the country may attract a record number of holidaymakers from the U.K. this year.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Britain was Turkey’s third-largest tourist market. Nearly 2.6 million Britons visited the country in 2019, when foreign tourist arrivals increased by 14 percent from a year ago to stand at 45 million.
Last year, only 393,000 British nationals came to Turkey.
People from the industry predict strong demand from British holidaymakers between April and November.
“Not surprised to hear that Turkey has risen to fourth place in the world tourism rankings, according to a UNWTO report. Turkey is one of the best places to have a summer holiday. We are expecting record numbers of Brits visiting Turkey’s beautiful coasts this year!” tweeted Dominick Chilcott, British ambassador to Turkey, on March 30.
Flights from the U.K to Turkey resumed on March 27, with the first plane landing at Dalaman Airport.
“Demand [from the U.K.] has been very strong in the past days. During the tourism season, probably some 200 planes will arrive each week, which means 37,000 British tourists each week. Currently, all planes arriving are full,” said Özgen Uysal, the head of the Western Mediterranean chapter of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).
If this trend continues and in the absence of a major unfavorable development, Turkey may see a record number of visitors from the U.K. this year, Uysal added, noting that Marmaris, Fethiye, Kaş, Kalkan and Göcek are British holidaymakers’ favorite destinations in the country.
British tourists not only vacation in resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts but also visit Istanbul, said Burak Tonbul, the general manager of Diana Travel.
“They are traveling to different parts of the country. But still, some 1 million British tourists arrived at Dalaman Airport and another 500,000 at Antalya Airport.”
Tonbul also voiced optimism that with the pandemic situation improved in Turkey, the country is likely to receive a record number of British tourists this year.
Uysal separately said that tourist arrivals from European countries could begin sometime in May.
“The recent recovery in the value of the Russian ruble raises some hopes [in the tourism industry]. But the flight sanctions are still in place.We are yet optimistic, keeping an eye on the negations [between Ukraine and Russia],” Uysal said.
In 2021, 4.7 million Russians vacationed in Turkey, up from the previous year’s 2.1 million people.