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Prospects fading, Turkey hopes lockdown rescues tourism season

Turkey’s tourism sector faces another lost season after a rapid coronavirus rise wiped out many early foreign bookings and prompted Russia, its top source of visitors, to halt flights and warn against travel this summer.
In a last-ditch move to cut infections and save the season, President Tayyip Erdogan last week imposed a lockdown through mid-May in part, he said, so that European countries did not leave Turkey behind as they re-open beaches, restaurants and travel.
The foreign cash that tourists spend is critical to offset Turkey’s heavy foreign debt, but revenues plunged 65 percent last year when the pandemic first hit.
The tourism minister told Reuters that 30 million foreigners could arrive this year, twice as many as last, if the lockdown succeeds in lowering daily COVID-19 cases to below 5,000 from near 30,000 in recent days.
But travel agents, associations and hotels said they fear this year will be little better than last after the virus wave briefly ranked Turkey second…

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