Turkey's tourist hotspot Antalya is preparing for socially distanced beach vacations

Turkey's tourist hotspot Antalya is preparing for socially distanced beach vacations
Intrepid travellers can expect to resume holidays in Turkey from mid-June onwards.
3 min read
27 May, 2020
Turkey is trying to sell "healthy tourism" to prospective international visitors [Getty]

Brave travellers desperate for a beach holiday respite after weeks of lockdowns might soon be able to do so in Turkey, where authorities are preparing for "socially distanced" vacations in the tourist hotspot of Antalya.

Located on Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast, Antalya is the country's tourist capital, boasting a record 15.5 million visitors last year.

The city's seven kilometre-long (4.3 miles) Konyaalti Beach is currently being transformed to suit Turkey's "new normal" as the country eases measures put in place to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

State news agency Anadolu on Tuesday published a video showing workers dividing the beach into nine-square-metre sections with beach-goers will be forbidden from sitting wherever they like.

Instead, sun loungers will be placed at a distance from one another. Once tourists have vacated their square of the beach anyone wanting to take their place will have to wait 20 minutes before it is disinfected. 

All visitors to the beach will be required to follow social-distancing measures after it re-opens for visitors on 1 June, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Antalya is not the only city in Turkey hoping to attract tourists despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities set up nine-metre-squared sun-bathin zones on Konyaalti Beach [Anadolu/Getty]

'Healthy tourism'

The Turkish government has launched a so-called "healthy tourism" scheme designed to save the country's $35 billion travel industry from the pandemic.

Despite suffering a slump in visitors in 2016, Turkey was the sixth-most visited country in 2018 and attracted nearly 52 million tourists last year.

Ankara hopes to win international travellers' trust with a series of rigorous checks on airports, hotels and elsewhere.

"The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists," Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told Reuters earlier this month.

The new "healthy tourism certificates" set strict social distancing and sanitation standards for not only hotels, airlines and airports, but also restaurants, cafes and bars in tourist hotspots.

Turkey will also set up Covid-19 testing centres in airports for international visitors who have not been tested for the highly contagious disease in the past 72 hours.

Read more: Saudi officials say visiting Turkey for tourism is 'unpatriotic'

Visitors to airports will also have to wear masks - currently mandated by law in Turkey - and have the temperatures taken.

Ankara has said it hopes to open to foreign visitors by mid-June but tourism industry officials are not optimistic that travellers will come back to the country so early.

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The government is lobbying 70 foreign countries in an attempt to see tourists return, according to Reuters.

Some international companies are already planning summer holidays in Turkey.

Dutch tour operator Correndon has said it will offer "corona-free" trips to its three hotels in Antalya as of June 26.

Travellers will fly from Amsterdam after being tested for the Covid-19 disease. After arriving in Antalya, they will be transported to their hotels by staff who have also been tested for coronavirus.

Correndon will require tourists to stay on the hotel premises at all times.

British-German tour operator TUI has also said it will offer all-inclusive packages to Turkey from June 15.

Despite ranking in the top ten worldwide in Covid-19 case numbers, Ankara has reported a comparatively lower death rate which analysts say can be partially explained by an overwhelmingly young population and the use of age-specific confinement orders.

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