ISTANBUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Global tourism industry anticipates a dynamic comeback in the second half of this year with worldwide expanding vaccinations against COVID-19, according to attendees of a recent tourism fair in Turkey's western province of Izmir.
Tourism representatives from different countries discussed the challenges and new trends in the industry amid the pandemic during the 14th Travel Turkey Izmir Digital Fair, which was held virtually for the first time on Feb. 25-27.
The attendees agreed that the industry would see a strong recovery as mass vaccination programs have been gaining speed across the globe, according to a press release by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
In 2020, the world tourism industry saw a 74 percent year-on-year reduction in global travels, according to the TURSAB data.
Firuz Baglikaya, head of the TURSAB, said the Turkish tourism sector expects to attract about 20 million foreign visitors this year as inoculation programs continue, especially in Turkey's primary markets like Europe and Russia.
He said the travel season will gain momentum in Turkey with the opening of foreign markets as of mid-June.
"In 2021, the number of foreign visitors to our country will increase by 60-70 percent compared to 2020, reaching approximately 20 million foreign visitors," he said, noting that first trips will be from nearby countries, especially from Germany and Ukraine.
In Baglikaya's view, the demand for destinations in close flight distances will increase, and vacation periods will get longer in the upcoming season.
"Ecotourism and concerns about sustainability come to the fore in holiday choices," he noted, adding that Turkey has the potential to respond to different consumer demands with its diverse types of tourism products and alternative accommodation facilities.
Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association, said that the tourism industry has been going through a challenging process, and the pandemic caused significant damages to all players in the market.
"The situation is worse for travel agencies. The sector shrank by almost 80 percent," Fiebig noted.
In his view, getting on a plane will be difficult without having been vaccinated in the upcoming period.
"But people want to spend their holidays abroad, they want to travel. I can say that the more they cannot achieve this, the more they want," he said.
For him, the desire to have a holiday in the Mediterranean region is on the rise among German people.
"They will most probably choose the destinations that they know very well, such as Greece and Turkey," he said, noting that they will prefer small and boutique hotels in the new season over the coronavirus-related concerns.
Mariana Oleskiv, chairperson at the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, also noted the drop in the number of tourists visiting Ukraine during the pandemic.
"This year, we want to work more with Turkey and attract more Turkish tourists to Ukraine," Oleskiv said.