Turkey, Economy

'Turkish tourism sector may shrink 70% due to pandemic'

Turkey likely to end 2020 with tourism revenues slightly over $11B, will host over 15M travelers by year-end, says minister

Hatice Ozdemir Tosun and Tuba Sahin   | 26.11.2020
'Turkish tourism sector may shrink 70% due to pandemic'


Turkey’s tourism sector will likely shrink 70% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s culture and tourism minister said on Thursday.

“It looks like we will end 2020 with slightly over $11 billion in tourism revenues and over 15 million travelers,” Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said in an online session of the 10th International Resort Tourism Congress. 

Turkey’s tourism income has narrowed significantly this year as the COVID-19 pandemic led to worldwide travel restrictions, border shutdowns, and an overall drop in consumer demand.

Ersoy stressed that the 2021 figure is expected to exceed this year but fall behind 2019.

The minister said: “We should target 100% growth for next year at minimum,” which means 30-31 million tourists.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Turkey’s tourism revenue stood at $34.5 billion last year.

The country welcomed 51.9 million visitors in 2019, a rise of 13.7% from the previous year, made up of 86.2% foreigners and 13.8% Turkish citizens residing abroad.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry’s data showed that foreigner visits to Turkey increased 14.1% on an annual basis, surpassing 45 million in 2019.

The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows that international tourist arrivals declined by 65% or 440 million around the world in the first half of 2020.

Revenues from international tourism decreased by $460 billion in the January-June period, according to the data. 

The UNWTO expects a loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism globally in 2020.

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