Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should play golf together. Turkey and the United States have some of the nicest golf courses and Trump owns the best of them. Instead, both men are in the process to destroy what is left in travel and tourism export between the two countries.
Erdogan decided: No more visa on arrival, no more e-visas for US citizens, but Americans are now allowed back into Turkey with a lot of time-consuming hurdles and restrictions.
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The Turkish Government now making is difficult instead of making it impossible is a sign of progress, but not really a sign of welcoming American tourists and business travelers with open arms for a Turkish Coffee, Doener in Istanbul.
In the meantime hotels are looking for business in Istanbul, Antalya or Ankara. Turkish inbound travel operators, event organizers, and resort hotels are going through a crisis.
In a country with a recent history of terror attacks against the travel and tourism industry, this combination is not bad enough for Turkish “quasi-dictator”, Turkish president Erdogan to say “quasi-no” to American visitors.
Turkish Airlines is spending money on sponsorships in the United States, they attend travel trade shows in the U.S. including at IMEX Las Vegas to promote their airline and their country and their MICE industry. On the other hand, their country prevents those that they convinced from actually traveling without going through a lengthy and painful visa application process and taking their US passport as a ransom in the meantime.
Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member and has the largest global route network in the world. The airline flies non stop from Istanbul to several U.S. cities. They are competing head to head with Etihad, Qatar or Emirates for U.S. passengers. The idea of a stop over in the city on the Bosporus was a great tool for the Turkish carrier to attract passengers from North America.
While the Turkish people remain one of the most welcoming people in the world, their president is slamming the door on tourists from the United States.
While thousands of years of history is waiting for visitors, while you find some of the best hotels in the world for little money, president Erdogan remains stubborn when it comes to welcoming or not welcoming American tourists.
A ban for US visitors wanting to visit Turkey since October 2017 was relaxed recently when the country now allows visas for Americans to be issued again at their embassy and consulates in the United States.
Forget a fast business or conference trip to Turkey, but if you can plan your visit months in advance it’s now possible again to beg for a tourist visa. Americans may have to travel to the Turkish diplomatic mission to show their bank statements and go through an interview process when begging for a visa, or they may get away in hiring a VISA service to facilitate their application. The turn around time with express service can be 5 days, but a 3-week waiting time without having your passport seems to be more realistic.
In the meantime Canadian and European visitors can speed through Istanbul Airport without visa requirements, other countries can apply online for an e-visa or buy a visa upon arrival, including visitors from countries like Iran. Many European citizens don’t need a passport at all and are allowed to enter with their national ID card or an expired passport.
Wow, they must hate Americans in Turkey now! And with “they” it must be the government – or is it about “what you do to me, we do to you” considering similar requirements are put on Turkish citizens wanting to visit the United States of America, and of course there is another “aggressive” president Donald Trump in the United States looking out for “America First.”
As UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai often said, travel is a human right.