ANTALYA, Turkey

The resumption of flights between Turkey and Russia amid strong measures to fight coronavirus set off a flood of tourists, with 80 airplanes full of Russian tourists landing in the resort city of Antalya in just one day, according to local officials.

Over 23,000 Russian tourists landed Monday at the popular Mediterranean resort, an early adopter of Turkey’s Safe Tourism Certificate program.

Antalya is a favorite destination for Russians, as last year they made up some 5.6 million of the 15 million visitors to the seaside resort, according to Antalya tourism officials.

Antalya “worked hard for the Safe Tourism Certificate program and to build trust among visitors,” Erkan Yagci, head of Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB), told Anadolu Agency.

With the first flights arriving from Russia, he said, “We saw the excitement on the first day.”

Yagci said the sector will not compromise on ensuring safe tourism using the certification program, adding: “As long as we provide safe and healthy tourism services, the demand will continue to increase.”

Ulkay Atmaca, head of the Professional Hotel Managers Association (POYD), said the high number of tourists arriving on the first day marks a good start to the tourist season.

“Russian nationals enjoy Antalya’s nature, cultural heritage, sea, sun, and beaches,” he added.

“The last 10 days have seen a jump in the number of bookings, which makes us happy.”

* Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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