The ban on food imports remains in place, however
Russia and Turkey are rolling back months of political tensions with Sunday proving to be another move in the right direction. Russia’s government lifted bans on charter flights to Turkey, which officially opens the Russian travel market to Turkey once more.
The lifting of charter flight restrictions yesterday could increase demand for tourism to Turkey by 30%, according to Russia’s Transportation Ministry.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said, “Russian aviation authorities are ready to immediately provide the necessary conditions for the implementation of charter flights to Turkey, including issuing the relevant permits to Russian airlines.”
The moratorium on charter flights to Turkey was introduced late last year amid a sharp deterioration in relations between Moscow and Ankara following the destruction of a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter plane over Syria. Russia invaded Turkey’s airspace. Two fighter jets were shot down. Relations between the two countries were put on ice. Russia retaliated by banning travel to Turkey, an important source of revenue.Some 13% of Turkey’s GDP is derived from travel and tourism. Russians are some of the more faithful visitors, along with the British.
Russia also banned imports of Turkish fruits. The ban is still in effect.
The Syria imbroglio also shut down the Botas Petroleum/Gazprom deal to build the Turkish Stream pipeline. Now that the two countries are talking again, the Turkish Stream is back on the table.
The full lifting on the travel ban is a gift to Turkey. The first half of the year, some 184,000 Russians traveled to the country, mainly through secondary markets like Belarus. That’s an 87% drop over the first half of 2015. The total volume of Turkey’s tourism revenue for the same period declined from $12.6 billion to $9 billion.