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Turkish Daily News 27.01.2021

Turkey Hopes for Bumper Tourism Numbers in 2021

Following a decline in Tourism numbers, due to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, Turkey’s tourism sector is hoping that the country’s declining coronavirus cases, coupled with the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine, will attract around 25 million foreign visitors to the Turkish holiday hotspots during 2021.

A recent report from Reuters states that, although it may “take up to two years for Turkey to return to pre-pandemic tourism figures, the country hopes to attract 25 million tourists during 2021”.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Ülkay Atmaca, head of the Turkish Professional Hotel Managers Association (POYD),  Sururi Corabatir, said he believes that Turkey’s swift action to limit the spread of the virus early on has helped boost early bookings.  He added that “the healthy and safe holiday opportunity Turkey offers to tourists has reflected positively on 2021 reservations”.

The number of foreign visitors to Turkey in 2019 was 45.06 million, bringing in around $34.5 billion in tourism revenue. In the first 11 months of 2020, the number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey was just 12 million, a drop of 72%.

The head of the Turkey Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) declared  “We need to reach a target of 25-30 million in 2021. 2021 is the year of crawling and standing up. 2022-2023 will be the year of running,”   He reiterated that the most important factor towards recovery will be vaccination, followed by a decline in the number of coronavirus cases in both Turkey and the countries who send tourists to Turkey.

The reported number of new cases of Coronavirus in Turkey has dropped significantly in recent weeks, following stricter lockdown measures, with just 7,103 new cases reported yesterday, whilst the countries vigorous vaccination programme, backed by a new delivery of the coronavirus vaccine, has now reached those aged 75 and over.

 

 

Positive Signs from the Turkish Auto Industry

Despite all the obstacles faced by the automobile industry worldwide, during a year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Turkish Automotive Distributors Association (ODD) report that the year ended with positive results

The report showed that passenger car sales rose by some 57.6%, year on year, to reach 610,109 units, with almost 162,679 light commercial vehicles were sold in the year, up 77.2% from 2019.

Conversely, reports show that European car sales declined throughout the year, with a drop of 12.5% in November, as measures to restrict a second coronavirus wave hit demand in the continent’s largest markets.  In the biggest EU countries, where sales were down every month except September, year-on-year sales crashed by 27% in France and by 18.7% in Spain, while the drop was more limited in Italy and Germany, where sales fell by 8.3% and 3%, respectively.

As for Turkey, demand for automobiles increased steadily, starting in early June after low-interest loan packages for new and used passenger vehicles were introduced by public lenders. This boosted sales before interest rates started to rise.

Due to the high demand coupled with global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, car dealerships across the country reported limited vehicle stocks. The supply shortage lasted until the end of the year.

 

 

Easy Turkish Tourist Visa Application for Pakistan– Revised January 2021

Pakistani visitors to Turkey, who hold an ordinary passport, are required to obtain a visa in advance of their entry to Turkey.

After completing the online premilinary application form at https://www.konsolosluk.gov.tr/ visa applications should be made through an authorised Visitor Application Centre (VAC) at Anatolia VAC in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi.

Required Documents:

  • Visa Application Form – completed online, printed and signed by applicant.
  • Passport/Travel Document – valid for at least 6 months from your arrival in Turkey
  • Copies of all pages of any recent previous passport
  • 2 x Biometric photos, 5cm x 5cm with white background
  • Travel health insurance certificate, covering a minimum 30,000 Euros, to cover the period of stay in Turkey and repatriation costs if necessary
  • Polio vaccination certificate (for Yellow Fever and Typhoid). Certificate should be less than 1 year old and be issued by Government hospital or approved laboratory
  • Flight reservation
  • Original letter of invitation, stamped and authorised by the Turkish Notary Public.

To give strenth to your application, it is advised that the applicant obtains a letter of invitation, which should be submitted to the Turkish Notary Public by Turkish citizen. 

The letter should include details such as:  reason for visit, nature of relationship between the visitor and the invitor; full name, date of birth, address and phone number of the Turkish citizen; address where the visitor will stay

In the event there is no letter of invitation, the visitor also needs to provide:

  • Confirmation of hotel reservation
  • Employment letter (if relevant)
  • Bank statements covering the previous 3 months
  • Supporting documents related to the visitor’s reason to return to Pakistan, ie business, property etc
  • Letter of consent from the visitor for verification of submitted information

There may also be additional required documents if the visitor is a student, person under 18 years of age etc.

 

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Turkish News Round Up:  29.01.2021

Sciences

An awards ceremony, held at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, and seen as Turkey’s equivalent to the Nobel Awards, saw recognition for some of the country’s up and coming scientists yesterday.

Hosting the ceremony, which was organized by the prestigious Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) and the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recognised the thriving science community, in fields ranging from health, engineering and social sciences.  He observed “Turkey’s accomplishments in the past 18 years are thanks to recognizing knowledge and science. Scientists are undoubtedly the most important architects of this success with their sacrifice of time to create added value for their nation and humanity, along with parents who devote themselves to the education of their children. Every new study or project you undertake demonstrates Turkey’s strength in the sciences. We are trying to support every scientist discovering, researching and producing,”

The president also mentioned the scientists’ efforts in the fight against the coronavirus. “Three innovative (Turkish) vaccine candidates are on the verge of starting phase studies. Work by our professors has the potential to become the third vaccine candidate in the clinical stage in its category in the world,” he said, and observed that there were currently some 436 researchers working on 17 projects for vaccine and drug development via the platform initiated by TÜBITAK.

The recipients of this years’ TÜBITAK awards in the Basic Sciences category were professors Mustafa Soylak, for his endeavours in the field of chemistry and Ismail Turkan who was awarded for his work.  In the Engineering Sciences category professors Ozgur Baris Akan was awarded for his work on communications theory and the “Internet of Things” (IOT)  and Hilmi Volkan Demir was recognised for his work on semi-condutor nanocrystal optoelectronics.

Together with their awards, each recipient receives a research grant, to allow for further studies in their chosen fields.

The TÜBITAK Special Award went to Professor Cengiz Sinan Özkan and a further 13 Incentive Awards were handed down to other noted scientists.

TÜBA international awards were handed to Erik Jeppesen, a Danish professor working on the impact of climate change; Okyay Kaynak, a mechatronics researcher, who serves as emeritus professor at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul ; Palestinian professor Wael B. Hallaq, who is a leading scholar in the field of Islamic legal studies at Columbia University in the USA and Murat Günel, a leading authority in his field of carotid artery and gamma knife surgery.

A further 31 young scientists were awarded the Outstanding Young Scientist award by Tuba.

 

Food

As we all know, Turkish cuisine is among the best in the world – and this was confirmed at the Taste Atlas awards 2020 held recently.  The world’s top 100 world-famous dishes were announced, based on ratings by over 63,000 tasters, with Turkey’s Adana Kebab being ranked in 2nd place with over 60,000 votes, beaten only by the Margharita Pizza.

Turkey was also mentioned a further four times in the top 20 list, with the Doner Kebab (5th), Sarma at 10th, the stuffed vine-leaf dish, Dolma, had a mention at 11th place and the humble Kofte made it at number 20.

The Adana kebab is traditionally made by combining hand-minced lamb and tail fat, kneaded together with garlic, onion, paprika, and hot red pepper flakes, to give a deep red color and a spicy flavor, before pressing onto iron skewers and grilling on an open barbecue.

Marking the recognition of his city’s famous kebab, which received a Controlled Designation of Origin registration in February 2005, Atila Menevse told Turkish radio of his pride that Adana’s trademark dish had been honoured in this way.  “This award is valuable for our city and our country” he said, and continued “we are elated to receive this recognition.  Adana is a city rich in gastronomy, with a wealth of tastes which has been handed down from our ancestors.”

Adana is continuing efforts to promote it’s unique traditional and historical cuisine, with other tastes also being showcased.  Mr Menevse informed reporters ““We are trying to create a brand for our city and provide benefits to its economy. Adana kebab is a taste and jewel known and wondered about around the world, not just in Turkey. We are striving to polish this jewel and others like it, and to raise them to their deserved heights,”

 

School Holiday Ideas

As schools in Turkey begin their annual holiday, which this year has been extended to 3 weeks (albeit most children have been learning from home for several months due to Covid-19 restrictions), many parents will be wondering how to keep their off-spring entertained, and reward them for coping with what must be seen as the most difficult of times, for youngsters who have been incarcerated at home for some 21 hours each day.

Whilst no-one is advocating a hotel break in these strange times, there are countless wonderful and natural outdoor wonders to visit on the doorstep of many of Turkey’s cities and towns.

One such visit could be to your local archaelogical site, many of which are easily accessible, being just a few hours drive, such as Ephesus – the best preserved ancient site on the Mediterranean and a UNESCO listed World Heritage site, or the nearby historic site of Selcuk coupled with the neighbouring Ottoman village of Sirince.

Another outing could be to Troy, (known in Turkey as Truva), the site of the famous Trojan wars, and of course the Trojan Horse as related in Homer’s Iliad, and where an impressive new archeology museum stands to enhance your family’s experience.

Troy is located conveniently close to the coastal town of Canakkale, where you can take a boat to Gallipoli, the historic battleground where thousands of Turkish, British, Australian and New Zealand troops lost their lives in World War 1 and whose valiant efforts are remembered at grand ceremonies on Anzac Day (April 25th).

 

On another day, why not visit the lesser known walled town of Iznik.  This pretty and historical town, previously Nicaea, is known as the birthplace of the Nicaean Creed, the foundation of Christianity.   The town’s Lake Iznik, which recently revealed the St Neophythos Basilica, is home to many species of waterfowl and, being a flat terrain, is an ideal place to take the family for an afternoon’s cycling around it’s 32km perimeter.

The town is also known for it’s famous pottery and there are numerous ceramic workshops available.

 

Another suggestion for yet another family outing – this time to the Yedigoller National Park (7 lakes) in the Black Sea province of Bolu.  Winter often sees heavy snow in this region, which makes the area a magical place to visit at this time of year.

The area is home to a variety of wildlife such as bears, lynxes, foxes, wolves and otters – with a separate reserve for deers and is an excellent place to hike or cycle.

 

Finally, a little bit further away from Istanbul, yet just over an hour’s flying time, is one of Turkey’s most visited areas – Cappadocia, which captivates visitors due to the ‘fairy chimneys’, thespecial formations of rock which are prevalent in this area.  Whilst the area’s famous balloon rides may not be an option in freezing conditions, winter generally sees this area covered in a blanket of snow, making for an ethereal experience to this magical birthplace of Christianity.  Your children will be enthralled with their visit to an underground city, and in awe of the tales of early Christians hiding many feet beneath the surface of the town.

The Goreme Open Air Museum is home to many well-preserved churches and cave paintings, and indeed, your hotel here is very likely to be one of the many which have transformed some of the area’s caves into unique rooms usually with steaming hot tubs and hamams also on hand to warm up after your day’s exploring.

The towns and areas mentioned here can be considered far more enjoyable during the cooler winter months, and far less busy than in the tourist-ridden, sweltering summer days and it is often fascinating to explore the history, beauty and forgotten towns and villages right on your doorstep.

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Turkish News Round Up -01.02.2021

The fight against PKK

It is reported that, together with Iraqi military forces, Turkey may soon launch an operation in Sinjar, Northern Iraq – the home of the terrorist organisation PKK, which has been responsible for many terrorism attacks in Turkey over the last 40 years.

Experts describe how such an attack would not only  deal a heavy blow to terrorist groups like the PKK and Daesh, but it would also thwart the formation of a terror corridor by the PKK’s offshoots and restore stability in the region, although such partnership would require the sincere commitment of the Baghdad and Irbil administrations.

Can Acun, a foreign policy expert, Turkey said “We see that the PKK exploits instability in the region to strengthen itself, and this poses a threat to not only Turkey but also the interests of the Baghdad and Irbil administrations,” Acun said, adding that the elimination of the PKK would work in favor of all legitimate actors in the region.

It is not yet clear whether the operation with be a joint or unilateral one, but Mr Acun noted that Iraqi military aspires to eliminate groups linked with PKK, such as the Sinjar Resistance Unit and that Turkey is ready to provide support if necessary.

Turkish and Iraqi officials have held several meetings in recent months to discuss the issue of Sinjar. Most recently, the National Security Council (MGK) discussed the matter and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has just visited Iraq, saying that co-operation between Ankara and Baghdad, as well as Ankara and Irbil, will lead to important developments in terms of the fight against terrorism.

Tourism

Despite falling tourism numbers, which saw revenue slashed by 2/3 last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Turkish Tourism chiefs are confident that 2021 could see more tourists visiting the country’s holiday hotspots before the end of the year.

Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the U.K.-based World Tourism Forum Institute (WTFI), told Anadolu Agency (AA). “Turkey is doing very well. If Turkey continues to inspire trust and confidence for visitors, it may reach the pre-2020 rates before the end of 2021”

The revenue raised by Turkey’s tourism sector is necessary to decrease the current account deficit.  However, with global travel restrictions, stay at home orders and the closure of restaurants and hotels, the number of foreign visitors fell by 71.7% in 2020, leading to a drop in income of $12.06 billion (88.19 billion TL), a shortfall of 65.1%.

Noting that coronavirus-related travel restrictions caused the tourism sector to collapse, Rifai said noted that, even if borders reopen, people will probably not start traveling immediately due to issues with “trust and confidence perceptions” however it is believed that Turkey’s robust vaccination programme will have a positive impact on the tourism sector.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry kicked off a Safe Tourism Certificate program at the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, implementing effective measures at airports, accommodation facilities and beaches to curb the spread of the disease, which led to tourists being able to holiday with peace of mind.

Touching on Turkey’s success in dealing with the crisis in the 21st century, Rifai underlined the importance of strong political will and belief for the resilience of the tourism sector.  “It is about everyone in the world. It is not about competition but rather coordination and good management,” he added.  Mr Rifai added that the world will not return to the “good old days” in the short run but feels “We will go back to sustainable growth maybe by 2022,” he said. “It will depend on how successful governments are in promoting safe vaccines and the vaccine’s success rates,” he noted.

In 2019, Turkey welcomed 45 million foreign visitors, up from 39.5 million from 2018.  Amongst others, Turkey welcomes visitors from Russia (16.8%), Bulgaria (9.8%), Germany (8.8%), Ukraine (7.8%) and Great Britain (6.4%).

Export

Friday saw two trains leave Turkey, carrying export goods on the Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway.  One train, heading to Russia is the first block train to use the route, whilst the second train, carrying boron containers to China is the third train to do so.

The trains indicate Turkey’s importance on the modern Silk Route trade and global transportation network. At the sending off ceremony in Ankara, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, said the country has become the most strategic connection on the Iron Silk Road and also noted that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project – an ambitious initiative connecting China, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and covering a large trade and investment area – is important for Turkey and is an opportunity to expand exports.

The BTK line connects Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on the Caspian Sea to Turkey’s eastern border city of Kars via the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Meanwhile, China’s Iron Silk Road connects China to Europe via Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to Baku via train ferries. The trains cross Georgia to enter Turkey via the BTK and then reach the western coast of Turkey before entering Europe.

The BTK started operations on 30th October 2017, and began a new era in global rail transportation.  Mr Karaismailoğlu informed reporters that the rail line has reduced cargo transport time between China and Turkey to just 12 days from one month, while the integration of the Marmaray tunnel, which connects Istanbul’s Asian and European sides, and lies beneath the Bosphorous, thus being dubbed “the project of the century,” has reduced the travelling time between East Asia and Western Europe to 18 days.

Mr Karaismailoğlu stated “The export train we are sending off today will travel approximately 4,650 kilometers (2,889 miles) to Moscow, using the BTK line, carrying some 3,321 dishwashers, stoves and ovens produced in Turkey, and delivered to the Vladimir Region of Russia in 15 containers over 15 wagons,” before adding that the development in this transport, which was previously carried out via sea and land routes, is the result of the trust shown in Turkey’s railway transportation.

Underlining the importance for both Russia and Turkey to transport their exports and imports via the railroad and thus strengthen commercial relations, Karaismailoğlu noted that these shipments are not just for commercial activities alone.

“Trade and purchasing are among the most important elements of the multidimensional relations between Turkey and Russia and also strengthen the bridge of friendship between the two countries,” he said.

Turkey-EU Relations – Health

On Thursday, The head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, visited the construction site of a new 300-bed state hospital in Turkey’s southern province of Kilis, which is being financed by the EU, managed by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) and implemented by Turkey’s Health Ministry.

Kilis, located near the border with Syria, has seen its population double due to an influx of Syrian refugees and is one of the provinces with the highest percentage of Syrian refugees.

“The construction of this hospital, which will provide health services to both the local community and Syrian refugees, is part of a European contribution to improve the health structure in the Kilis province.  It will double the space available in hospitals in the area,” Meyer-Landrut told journalists after visiting the hospital construction site which, according to the CEB, is expected to be operational by October 2021.

The ambassador also visited the refugee health center and the Elbeyli temporary refuge center.

Continuing his visits in the region, Mr Meyer-Landrut

Going on to Gaziantep to continue his visits in the region Mr Meyer-Landrut stopped at the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Institute in Gaziantep , which was established in collaboration with the EU. The envoy underlined the significance of mutual cooperation between Turkish and EU institutes as well as artists within the scope of dialogue with civil society.

Saying that the EU has finalized the transfer of 6 billion euros (about $7.3 billion) to be used in projects for migrants according to the deal between Ankara and Brussels in 2016, Meyer-Landrut said the bloc expects the projects to be implemented, mostly by local authorities, after the transfer of the promised amount in the migrant deal. He added that cooperation with Gaziantep will be strengthened with the new projects due to the province’s position as an important hub for refugees.

Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin, said the municipality created a “Gaziantep model” in its relations with refugees, carrying out special projects for children’s rights, women’s rights and human rights. The veteran mayor added that she would like to continue working with the EU delegation on joint projects for refugees.

 

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