Turkey plans to discourage foreign tourists from coming to the country amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic until the end of April, Culture and Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy said during a press conference on March 11.
“April 15 is a critical date in terms of the virus. It seems reasonable that the international tourism demand for Turkey is delayed until the end of April,” Ersoy said, adding that hotels had been advised to postpone summer openings.
The press conference was also attended by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.
“We have decided that it is a much more healthy solution if fewer tourists come [to Turkey] compared to last year. I conducted a meeting with the [tourism] sector representatives yesterday. I have also conducted a meeting with the Treasury and Finance Ministry. We will make an announcement regarding the [financial] support package [for tourism] within a week,” Ersoy said.
Turkey’s tourism sector accounts for about 13 percent of its economy and has stepped up calls on the government for financial help to deal with the expected negative impact of the outbreak.
As for the “cultural activities and organizations” held in Turkey, Ersoy said that such events might be postponed until the end of April, but the issue will be clarified following a meeting a day later.
Turkey confirmed its first case of the coronavirus early on March 11, becoming the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the World Health Organization (WHO) described as “vigilant, cautious” measures to delay the disease.