Choked off by coronavirus, the number of foreigners visiting Turkey plunged 51% on an annual basis this January-April, the country’s Culture and Tourism Ministry said Friday.

Turkey welcomed almost 4.3 million foreign visitors in the first four months of 2020, down from 8.7 million in the same period last year, ministry data showed.

Istanbul saw the highest number of foreigner arrivals with 2.3 million in January-April, followed by Edirne, in northwestern Turkey, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece.

Bulgarians accounted for over 9.4% or nearly 400,000 of the visitors, followed by Germans with some 8.4% (356,696 visitors), and Georgians with 7.7% (329,670).

April figures

As the virus’ impact started to be felt in earnest in mid-March with the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders, Turkey’s tourism activities nearly ground to a halt in April.

The country saw a 99.3% year-on-year decline in foreign visitor numbers to 24,238 last month.

Last year, more than 45 million foreigners – a historic high – entered the country, up from nearly 39.5 million in 2018.

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