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The first group of Russian tourists arrived in the southern province of Antalya after Moscow resumed full-scale air traffic with Turkey on June 22, with representatives from the industry expecting as many as 7 million Russians to visit the country this year.

On April 15, Russia had temporarily suspended regular and charter flights with Turkey due to COVID-19 concerns.

Last week, a delegation from Russia arrived in Turkey to see and assess the safety measures the country is taking against the coronavirus.

They visited facilities in Antalya that have earned Safe Tourism Certificates and spoke public authorities and sector employees.

Finally, after a two-month break, Moscow ended the flight restrictions and Russian tourists started to come to Turkey again.

A Turkish Airlines plane, which departed from Vnukova Airport in the Russian capital Moscow, landed at Antalya airport early in the morning with 132 passengers on board.


The tourists got off the plane, passed through thermal cameras, and entered the airport. After passport procedures, they moved to the hotels.

During the day, more than 12,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Antalya on 44 planes from Russia to Turkey.

Strong demand for Turkey holiday

Some 7 million Russians may visit Turkey this year, Andrei Ignatyev, president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI), said last week.

Meanwhile, Russian tourism companies are reporting strong demand for Turkey from Russian holidaymakers.“Thousands of people called tour operators only 30 minutes after the authorities announced that the flights to Turkey would resume,” said Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Russia’s Tour Operators.

This strong interest in Turkey was not unexpected but the booking demands for Turkey holidays well exceeded the expectations of Russian travel agencies and tour operators, she said.

Demand for flights to Turkish destinations leaped 250 percent immediately after the announcement regarding the lifting of the restrictions came out, with 48 percent of Russians buying tickets for Antalya and 41 percent for Istanbul, according to Elena Shelehova, spokesperson for the Russian vacation planning service OneTwoTrip.

Turkey is a major destination for Russian holidaymakers.

The country welcomed 2.1 million Russians last year and some 6 million in 2019 before the pandemic, who accounted for some 12 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals in that year.

From January to April this year, a little more than 317,000 Russians visited Turkey, down from 552,000 visits in the same period of 2020.