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Russian tourists may soon flock back to Turkey if safety demands met

June 30, 2016, 8:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW

First tourists from Russia will be able to go to Turkey already in a week after the restrictions are removed

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© Maxim Grigoriev/TASS

MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. Russian holidaymakers may soon return to Turkish resorts, which used to be one of the most popular tourist destinations before Moscow imposed economic sanctions in Ankara after an Su-24 bomber was shot down by Turkish F-16s over Syria in November 2015.

Back then the Russian government urged tourists to stop visiting Turkey over security concerns, while national tourism agencies stopped selling tours to the country’s Mediterranean resorts, which offered an all-inclusive service at affordable prices.

However, now, seven months after the Su-24 incident, the two countries seem ready to resume their multifaceted cooperation, in particular in tourism sector.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin press service said Russian President Vladimir Putin had received a message from Turkey’s President Erdogan where the Turkish leader expressed his readiness to settle the situation over the downing of the Russian warplane.

According to the Kremlin, the message notes that Russia is Turkey’s friend and strategic partner the Turkish authorities don’t want to upset relations with.

Erdogan offered his deep condolences to the family of the killed Russian pilot.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to start talks with Turkey on resumption of cooperation in trade and other sectors of economy. Putin met the cabinet after his phone conversation with Turkish President Tayip Erdogan that took place on the initiative of the Russian side. Erdogan assured Putin that the Turkish leadership will do its best to ensure security of Russian citizens on the territory of the Turkish republic.

According to Russia’s Union of Travel Industry press secretary Irina Tyurina, first tourists from Russia will be able to go to Turkey already in a week after the restrictions for travelling to that country are removed.

"I think it won’t take long for Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency to give permission to national airlines. It is possible to resume full charter flights with a month maximum," she told TASS.

Tyurina also said she is confident that Turkey will do its best to ensure the safety of the resorts.

"I think Turkey will take great pains to do that, they have no choice, they're just dying without the tourism industry," she said.

According to her forecast, on the first stage prices of trips to Turkey will be available in order to form the flow of tourists and after that price will depend on the market situation.

Mikhail Emelyanov, head of the subcommittee on tourism at the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy told TASS, that after the removal of the restrictions the flow of Russian tourists to Turkey can be fully restored next year.

"Now it is already the peak of tourist season and this year it is not possible to fully restore the flow of tourists to a level that was before the introduction of restrictions. It will not work because many tourists have already bought other tours and won’t go to Turkey. The current tourist season has been missed. But next year they can count on full flow of tourists from Russia to Turkey, he said"

In her turn official representative of the Tez Tour operator Larissa Akhanova told TASS that in case the restrictions are removed the flow of tourists from Russia to Turkey in the 2016 season will be much lower than last year.

She stressed that the President’s order to the cabinet to enter into negotiations with Turkey to remove restrictions on travels to Turkey for Russian tourists does not imply that this destination will be opened.

Tez Tour does not expect a quick recovery of the tourist flow from Russia to Turkey to the pre-crisis level, Akhanova said.

"It is likely that prices for Turkish resorts remain comparable with the prices of 2015, but as a whole it will depend on the rate of the ruble against the dollar. In case of sharp currency fluctuations the cost of a trip in rubles can increase by 15-20%," she said.

At the end of 2015 Turkey was visited by about 3.6 million Russian tourists, a year earlier the number was more than 4 million.

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