Seven European nations, including the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, have barred Turkish passengers from entering their countries as the Omicron variant spreads, according to travel guidance by Turkey’s Civil Aviation Authority (SHGM).
EU may soon warn tourists to stay away from Turkey, which would dim hopes for an extraordinary 2022 tourism season. In January-November, the country welcomed 22.8 million foreign visitors, up 89.6 percent from the same period last year.
Turkey aims to achieve strong growth in tourism next year, overtaking pre-pandemic revenues. The Tourism Ministry expects tourism revenues to reach $24 billion this year. In 2020, Turkey generated $12.6 billion tourism revenues with a 65.1 percent year-on-year decline.
The news struck Turkey’s airline stocks hard.
Daily coronavirus cases in Turkey have reached their highest level since April this week, surging to nearly 37,000, but the number is still significantly below figures reported in parts of Europe.
The SHGM’s COVID-19 travel guidance, last updated on Dec. 28, said the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Croatia, Iceland and Switzerland would no longer accept Turkish passengers. It said Turkish passengers would need to show proof of vaccination when entering Portugal or Sweden.
“Entry cannot be made from our country,” the SHGM list said for the seven European countries, without elaborating.
The SHGM also updated travel restrictions for Iraq and Iran, saying passengers travelling to the two countries may be subject to 14-day quarantine upon entry, while other travelers would need a negative PCR test.
It was not immediately clear when the new restrictions were put in place or how long they would be in effect.
The Netherlands announced a snap COVID-19 Christmas lockdown earlier this month, which will be reviewed on Jan. 14. Other countries have seen record number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, working to balance restrictions while keeping economies running.
Turkey has said it was not considering new restrictions for the moment, instead urging citizens to ramp up personal measures and get vaccinated. Ankara launched a nationwide rollout of its domestic COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, on Thursday.
Separately, Hong Kong on Thursday ordered three airline companies, including Turkish Airlines (THY), to suspend their flights for two weeks as it reported 11 new imported omicron cases, bringing the total to 81.
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