14 January 2022
Not Turning Cold Turkey
In spite of adverse conditions, Turkey has been witnessing a significant rise in international tourist arrivals. In the pre-pandemic phase, 2019 was the most successful year for Turkish tourism in terms of the number of international arrivals. In 2019, our destination hosted 2.3 lakh Indian tourists, with an increase of 55% in comparison with 2018. This number was a record for us in India. I believe, with the recent resumption of direct flights between our countries, both the number of Indian tourists visiting Turkey and Turkish tourists visiting India will grow significantly in a short while. Indian citizens have also travelled to Turkey via Dubai or Qatar. We try to facilitate the process for Indian visitors as much as we can. In this regard, I would like to underline the fact that as of now, our visa departments have been operating in full capacity in India. Besides e-visa schemes for Indian citizens is still valid. As you know, an Indian citizen who has a valid Schengen, UK or US visa can apply for Turkish e-visa online and obtain his/her visa within 5-10 minutes via https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ web page.
With the help of successful vaccination campaigns both in Turkey and other countries, we expect to reach 2019 numbers by 2022 or 2023.
To ease the confusion on approval of vaccines for traveling globally, I am very pleased to declare that, as of September 4, last year, fully vaccinated travelers from India have not been subjected to the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule in Turkey. The vaccines that have been approved by WHO or Turkish Government are covered under this exemption. In addition to WHO approved vaccines, the vaccines approved by Turkish Government are Pzifer, Biontech, Sputnik V and Sinovac. Indian travelers must take the second dose (for Johnson & Johnson one dose is sufficient) at least 14 days prior to the date of travel. Indian travelers who are vaccinated with Covishield will also be exempted from quarantine. I also believe that, once Covaxin gets a nod from WHO, travelers vaccinated with Covaxin will also be able to visit Turkey. The fully vaccinated travelers are also required to submit their negative PCR test report taken 72 hours before departure to be exempt from quarantine. Non vaccinated travelers coming from India are subject to mandatory quarantine for 10 days in a hotel or a location mentioned in the declaration. Children below 12 years old are exempted from the vaccination and negative PCR test rule.
I would like to mention the Safe Tourism Certification Program which has been at the heart of safety protocols of our tourism industry since mid-2020. As is well-acknowledged, Turkey is one of the first countries in the world to introduce the Safe Tourism Certificate Program for the tourism industry. This certificate covers a broad range of measures including transportation, accommodation, health condition of employees of the facilities and passengers. Granted by the international certification institutions, this system ensures the safety of the visitors, both domestic and international. Thanks to the Safe Tourism Certificate Program, we had such an impressive number of international visitors in spite of the pandemic.
Friendly ties between Turkey and India have their roots in history. There exist strong cultural bonds between the Turkish and Indian people. After all, both share similar values and ideals and commitment to democracy, rule of law, human rights, pluralism, open society, and sustainable development. They strive to strengthen international peace and stability. Turkey and India have undergone an immense social, political, and economic transformation since the end of the Cold War. Today, both Turkey and India are rising powers.
Turkey considers India as a friendly country taking firm steps forward to be a global power with its growing economy, huge market, military power, outstanding knowledge in space technology and informatics, rich human resources, and deep-rooted historical and cultural heritage. We closely follow and appreciate the rapid progress of India.
Turkey is determined to develop its relations with India in every possible field. There is a mutual will to enhance bilateral relations. Our bilateral relations have a huge potential to develop and benefit both sides as relations at social and economic levels are already flourishing. We welcome the increasing trend in people to people contact and business sector cooperation while looking forward to further developing our relations.
(Disclaimer: Excerpts from an interview between Mr Firat Sunel and Travel Trends Today, India’s leading travel trade magazine. All travel information are verified as of date.)