Posted on 11 February 2010
In the last fortnight Turkey has taken two very significant steps to increase tourism to the country. Citizens from both Lebanon and Albanian can now travel visa-free to and from Turkey, and vice-versa for Turkish citizens. Albanian’s can now stay up to 90 days in Turkey without the need for a visa.
The European Union recently inked a similar deal with Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro — three of Albania’s tourism rivals — but left Albania out in the cold. The deal with Lebanon has been in the pipeline since early January.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the impact visa-free EU travel has on Macedonia, Serbian and Montenegrin tourism, compares to the impact visa-free Turkey travel has on Albania’s tourism sector and economy.
The deal with Lebanon follows similar agreements between Turkey and Syria, Turkey and Jordan, and Turkey and Libya. The Middle Eastern states who have failed to capitalise on the advent of the budget airline for far too long, are now coming to a friendly country that has become one of the biggest and fastest growing tourism destinations in the world for help.
Turkey of course is seeking to widen its arc of influence, whilst also seeking new avenues in order to keep up its impressive track record for year on year tourism growth.
Turkey received over 28million tourists in 2008, and though official figures aren’t compiled yet, analysts are forecasting between a slight fall and a moderate growth last year. Bearing in mind that last year was a bad year for international economies and therefore international tourism, and also bearing in mind that this is to be the year of recovery, deals like these would certainly seem to keep Turkey on track for its target of 30 million visitors in 2010.