ANTALYA, Turkey 

After Turkey and Russia negotiated a resumption of flights between the two countries, Russian tourists once again chose the resort city of Antalya for their “safe vacation” amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey ranked first among countries visited by Russian nationals for tourism last year with nearly 7 million tourists coming to the country. This year, in line with measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Turkey once again began to host Russian tourists.

After five months of pause, tourists from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport took off for Turkey’s Antalya province where they landed early Monday with 519 passengers.

Russian tourists also arrived at other hotspots in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province, including Bodrum and Dalaman.

Tourists coming from Russia all expressed how much they missed Turkey and Antalya as soon as they arrived at the airport and their hotels.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Alexandra Trushlyakova said she landed in Antalya for a week-long vacation: “I came as soon as the borders opened. I plan to spend all of my time in the sea […] I’ll shake off this year’s exhaustion in Antalya.”

Another tourist who arrived with her friends, Anna Cherepkova told they bought their tickets as soon as they found out flights would resume. “It feels like a dream, we’re planning a great vacation.”

“Many of our friends are also counting the days to come down here. We received a lot of information about Antalya before coming […] We’re very happy now,” said Anna Zhila, who also landed in Turkey.

Tatiana Korniova, who is in Antalya with her husband, said they had come to the Mediterranean city on vacation in the past years.

Saying they felt that Turkey is the safest country for vacation amid the pandemic, Korniova said: “We’ve closely followed Turkey’s measures taken during the pandemic and chose Turkey for our holiday destination without a second thought […] We’re happy to be here for vacation and believe we’ll enjoy a safe and delightful holiday.”

Turkey has so far confirmed 240,804 cases and 223,759 recoveries from the novel coronavirus, with the death toll standing at 5,844.

Since it originated in Wuhan, China last December, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 731,500 lives in 188 countries and regions.

More than 19.8 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide so far with over 12.1 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The US, Brazil, India and Russia are currently the worst-hit countries in the world.

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