The Turkish embassy to Russia has denied information from a number of Russian media outlets about a possible closure of the country’s borders to foreign tourists due to the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
“This information, which was published with reference to an interview with Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, is untrue. The minister did not make such statements during his speech,” the embassy told Interfax.
On Monday, a number of Russian media outlets reported the possible closure of Turkey’s borders to foreign tourists due to the spread of the Delta strain, a new variant of Covid-19, citing the Turkish minister of culture and tourism.
Meanwhile, as the minister said in an interview with CNN Turk, the improvement of the epidemic situation in the country depends first on the rate of vaccination. Ersoy believes that if citizens are actively vaccinated, then Turkey can quickly reach a complete rectification of the epidemiological situation in the country.
As for the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus and the possibility of reclosing the country’s borders, the culture and tourism minister said that in the current situation, no guarantees can be given, but the country is closely monitoring the Delta strain.
Since the beginning of the year, Kiev has been visited by 308,000 foreign and more than 500,000 domestic tourists, deputy head of Kyiv City State Administration Maryna Khonda has said.
“According to the State Border Guard Service, most of the foreign tourists came from the United States – 26,576 people. Israel is in the second place – 22,684 people, and Turkey closes the top three – 21,057 tourists. The list of countries from which a lot of tourists came from also includes Germany, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Georgia and India,” Khonda said.
According to her, the tourism development will become one of the main priorities for Kyiv after the pandemic. A number of important projects are currently being implemented to increase the tourist attraction of the city. In particular, the Hospitality Academy recently began its work in Kyiv to train volunteer assistants in the field of tourism. Also in Kiev, they plan to create an inclusive tourist route that will unite the most famous sights.
Maryna Khonda also said that since the beginning of the year, UAH 22.5 million in tourist tax have been collected.
The State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine plans to launch a poll campaign of foreign tourists at the border in August or September, Head of the agency Maryana Oleskiv has said.
“We will soon announce a tender, and I think that in August or September there will be such a poll. They will ask the purpose of arrival, time of stay, what people plan to visit, what expenses are planned, etc. This will allow us to understand how many tourists we have from the entire entrance flow, who is this tourist, what are her/his preferences, where does she/he get information from, the purpose of the visit,” Oleskiv told Interfax-Ukraine.
In addition, according to her, the State Agency for Tourism Development will also announce a tender for the purchase of these payment systems.
“Since they will most accurately give us a picture of exactly the costs and composition of costs, as well as show where the foreign tourist comes from and what he spends his money on. This will allow us to more accurately plan our marketing campaigns,” she said.
Among the priority countries for inbound tourism from abroad, Oleskiv named Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Poland, as well as Israel and China.
“So far, China does not allow its citizens to actively travel. But we are at a ‘low start.’ As soon as we understand that the country starts to provide opportunities for citizens to travel, we will be actively involved,” she said.
Oleskiv expects that in 2021 Ukraine will be able to reach half of the volume of international tourism in 2019, and in 2023-2024 tourism worldwide should return to the pre-quarantine level.
Some 116,000 foreign tourists visited the Ukrainian capital in the first quarter of 2021, Deputy Head of Kyiv City State Administration Maryna Khonda has said.
“Despite all the obstacles caused by the pandemic, foreign tourists still visit Kyiv. This year, most tourists, according to the State Border Guard Service, came to the Ukrainian capital from Belarus – 10,500 people. Also 8,900 people came from Israel and 8,300 from Turkey,” the press service of Kyiv City State Administration said, citing Khonda on Wednesday.
The official also said that the list of countries, where more tourists came from, included the United States, India, Germany, Great Britain, France and Georgia.
In addition to foreigners, according to preliminary estimates, the capital was visited by about 300,000 domestic tourists, and the tourist tax at the beginning of May amounted to UAH 11.670 million.
The Kyiv City Council at a meeting on Thursday approved the tourism fee rate in the amount of 0.4% of the minimum wage for Ukrainian tourists and 1% of the minimum wage for foreign tourists. A total of 76 deputies backed the decision. “In 2019, the amount of this fee for domestic tourism will amount to UAH 16.69, for inbound tourism – UAH 41.73. Taking into account the rates, the city budget should receive at least UAH 35 million,” the press service of the Kyiv City Council reported, citing First Deputy Head of the Kyiv City Administration Mykola Povoroznik.
Earlier, he reported that in 2018, the budget of Kyiv city received UAH 33 million, which is almost a quarter more than in 2017.
As reported, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada in 2019 changed the base for accruing the tourism fee and obliged tourists living in private accommodation to pay it, according to the law amending the Tax Code and other legal acts on the review of some tax and duty rates (bill No. 9260 from the so-called “budget” package of bills).
In addition, the law changes the tourism fee rates in 2019. In particular, for domestic tourists, the rates should not exceed 0.5% of the minimum wage per day, which from January 1, 2019 will be UAH 20.87, for inbound tourism – up to 5% of the minimum wage (UAH 208.65). The final rates will be determined by local councils, but they will not depend on the cost of accommodation or hotel category.
Department of Tourism and Promotions at Kyiv State City Administration plans to increase the flow of foreign tourists in the capital by 25% compared to 2017, to 2 million people, head of the department Anton Taranenko has said.
“Our plan for this year is 2 million foreign tourists, this year we almost got closer to the level of 2013. This summer has become record in the past four years. Over half a year later, in 2018, more than 850,000 foreign tourists visited Kyiv, whereas in the similar the period of 2013 there were 660,000,” he said at a press briefing on Monday.
According to Taranenko, the “profile” of tourists visiting Kyiv in recent years has changed: if in 2013-2014 more than 50% of them were from Russia and post-Soviet countries, then the top five in the past year are Belarus, Israel, the United States, Germany and Turkey.
“Belarus is in the lead due to the fact that a large number of Belarusians come to Kyiv, get accommodated here for a day or two, and then go to the Black Sea coast, that is, it is short-term tourism. Israel is growing every year, and representatives of the tourist cluster of the United States and Germany are going to Kyiv due to the return of cruises to Kyiv. Turkey is always in the top five, and there is also a flow from Italy, France and the UK,” he said.
According to him, the segment of foreign leisure tourists has been growing recently.
Taranenko told Interfax-Ukraine in a comment that the ratio of “conventional” tourists to those who travel to attend an event or on business trip in the first half of 2018 was 40% to 60%, while in 2017 business tourism accounted for 70% of the entire flow. According to him, this equalizes the occupancy of hotels in the leisure season (from May to October) and in the traditional business travel season (September-May).
“In general, hotels feel much better than in previous years. The average occupancy rate from May to September is 45-50%,” he said.