Vaccination rate among hotel staff high, says minister

Hotel employees in Turkey have been highly responsive to the calls for getting vaccinated against the coronavirus as the inoculation rate among them is high, the country's tourism and culture minister has said.

"There is a widespread belief that young people tend not to get vaccinated. However, this is not the case with hotel staff. The vaccination rate at hotels has risen to 93 percent, and we aim to bring this figure further up to 100 percent," Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said.

Tourism activity is much better this year compared to last year, but outstanding troubles with some countries still need to be resolved, he said.

"We need a few more weeks to overcome those problems, and intense talks with the U.K. are underway," Ersoy added.

The minister was in Poland last week for meetings with executives of Warsaw-based tour operators.

"We hope air traffic will resume; this is our biggest wish. The key here is the number of infections. No matter what we do at the end of the day, the number of cases counts. We may face problems if infections rise," he said.

Last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit global tourism activity and air traffic hard, Turkey welcomed nearly 16 million foreign visitors, down from the previous year's 52 million. In 2018, foreign tourist arrivals in the country stood at a little more than 46 million.

The latest data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry showed that Turkey hosted around 3.7 million international holidaymakers in January-May this year, marking a 14 percent decline from the same period of 2020.

However, the number of foreign tourists visiting the country in May alone jumped from only 30,000 last year to 936,000, pointing to a staggering 3,000 percent rise on an annual basis.

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