Turkey is hoping to open to British visitors – without a requirement for Covid jabs or tests – as soon as the UK ban on holidays is lifted. Olivia Palamountain reports
Turkey has long been a key tourism destination for British travellers, with some 2.5 million UK nationals visiting in 2019. So it’s no surprise it wants to do everything it can to win some business this summer.
In an effort to retain its position in the popularity stakes and guarantee tourist footfall, Turkey has announced that it intends to welcome UK travellers this summer as soon as the UK government relaxes restrictions on vacations.
A win for Brits, the country has pledged that it will not require vaccine certificates for UK citizens, and will be reviewing its current PCR test proof protocols for British travellers on April 15.
With PCR tests costing around £150 a pop, if compulsory Covid testing is scrapped, this would significantly reduce the cost of Turkish holidays, making this a particularly attractive destination for families.
The key will be what rules the UK applies to travel to and from Turkey. Trips to “green list” countries will be the easiest with the potential of “just” two tests (although this is under discussion), while “amber” countries would mean tourists would need to quarantine when they get home. At the moment, Turkey could be put on the amber list due to rising Covid cases.
If proof of a negative PCR test is required on inbound journeys to the UK, Turkey has it covered with its “Safe Tourism Certification Program”.
All hotels certified under the “Safe Tourism Certification Program” provide testing facilities for tourists so that they can obtain test results before departing Turkey for the UK or elsewhere. Tests cost approximately €30 and are also available at Turkey’s international airports.
This scheme also defines a series of measures that must be taken across sectors including food and beverage, transportation and accommodation to ensure the health and well-being of facility personnel and guests, both local and foreign.
In addition, tourists visiting Turkey are offered a special insurance package, from just €15, which covers Covid-19 related expenses such as treatment, medication and emergency care costs that may be incurred if visitors are taken to a state-owned or private pandemic hospital during their stay.
Turkey’s Covid-19 Accommodation Support Insurance guarantees to cover any extra accommodation expenses that may be necessary during the trip, following the issuance of a medical report requiring them to be kept under supervision in a hotel.
It’s not just potential British visitors receiving special attention. In order to take all necessary steps to ensure the country is safe, Turkey has announced a priority vaccination programme for employees at hotels and other tourist facilities for the upcoming tourism season.
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Minister of Culture and Tourism for Turkey, says: “We are looking forward to welcoming British tourists with open arms, as we did safely last summer. We have world-class border processes in place for ensuring travel will be low-risk throughout Turkey.
“We are working with the British authorities to ensure these necessary processes are world-class and as up-to-date as possible. We will not require vaccination passports from international travellers when entering the country.”
Ersoy stated that “After April 15, we will look at the number of cases again, we will re-evaluate the situation and then decide if we will continue to require negative PCR test results from British citizens entering the country.
“I expect there will be no such requirement from British visitors as the UK Government is rapidly, and impressively, rolling out the vaccination program for the whole nation and a significant portion of the population will be vaccinated by early summer.
“To ensure our visitors can enjoy a safe and healthy holiday at all stages of their trip, we will continue to invest in the ‘Safe Tourism Certification Program’ which we launched in 2020. We have expanded the scope this year and made it compulsory for hotels and other accommodation facilities with 30 rooms or more. More than 8.000 facilities have been certified so far.”
Ersoy adds: “We are confident that the successful vaccination programmes ongoing in both the UK and Turkey will ensure this season is even safer than last year. More than ten million vaccinations have been given in Turkey so far.”
Editor’s note: On April 23, it was announced that Turkey has lifted the suspension of direct flights from the UK into Turkey, and no vaccination certificates will be required for international travellers entering the country. “For the time being, only a negative PCR test result will need to be presented.“