The number of foreigners visiting Turkey will double in 2021 compared to last year, a senior tourism official said on Wednesday.

The country expects to host 34 million foreign visitors this year, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Nadir Alpaslan told Anadolu Agency.

In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Turkey introduced its Safe Tourism Certification program, which, according to Alpaslan, gave it an edge over southern European countries.

Turkey’s tourism sector had a remarkable year in 2019, welcoming 52 million tourists and earning around $35 billion, he said.

Though it expected revenues of $40 billion last year, the tourism sector was one of the most affected sectors by the pandemic, Alpaslan stressed.

In 2020, the Turkish tourism sector closed the year with a loss of 65%.

He also noted that the pandemic’s effects continue in 2021, though all the necessary measures were taken in Turkey to ensure foreign visitors’ safety.

Measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, such as lockdowns and travel bans, affected several economic activities all around the world, especially tourism, travel and manufacturing sectors.

*Writing and contributions by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul

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