Turkey, a tourism powerhouse in the world, has proposed to the Indian Ministry of Tourism to form a joint working group to promote tourism between the two countries. Speaking to a select media gathering on the sidelines of an event (to announce the opening of 16 visa application centers in India in an exclusive association with VFS global) in Delhi late last month, Turkish Ambassador to India Dr Burak Akçapar said that time is ripe for furthering the tourism exchange between the two countries given the large potential that this segment offers.
“We are both big economies, are member of the G-20 club, and both of us share big ambitions in the tourism sector. Turkey is already a global super power in terms of tourism with around 39 million arrivals and we have the experience to augment the footfalls. We can do a lot of things together which can be mutually beneficial. Our proposal for a joint working group primarily calls for co-ordination at the government level. We are awaiting the response of the Indian government,” said Turkish envoy while refusing to divulge any further detail. Turkey, the sixth largest tourism destination in the world, had received about 1,30,000 Indian tourists last year which marked a jump of over 10 percent on an annual basis. And confident of garnering more number from one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world, Turkey now has made a major move to facilitate easy visa facilities to the travellers from India by opening 16 new visa centers. From the beginning of this month, travellers from India, Nepal, and Maldives can now apply for Turkey visas at centres located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Gurgaon, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru, Goa, Puducherry, Kochi, Trivandrum, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kathmandu (Nepal) and Male (Maldives). “Currently, we are receiving about 1000 visa applications a day. This is a major improvement which gives the applicants a better and easier visa service. I believe that the launch of these visa centres will contribute to the enhancement of the cooperation between Turkey and India in the fields of tourism and economy,” added Dr. Akcapar.
At the event, the Turkish ambassador, however, minced no words in emphasising that the air connectivity scene between the two countries needs an urgent attention for a drastic makeover. The national carrier of the country, Turkish Airlines, presently connects Delhi and Mumbai with direct flights to Istanbul but its demand for more flying rights is pending with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. “We are interested in enhancing our existing frequency as well as bringing more Indian destinations in Turkish Airlines’ network. Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Amritsar and Kolkata are the destinations where Turkish Airlines can easily operate if the permission is granted,” Dr. Akcapar emphasised while adding the existing services with over 90 percent load factor have become completely congested.
With a fleet size of around 300 aircrafts and with a volume of over 61 million passengers registered last year, Turkey’s national flag bearer today has the most expansive reach in the world, and according to Turkish ambassador, allowing the carrier to penetrate more in the Indian market will give a boost to Indian tourism. “Turkish airline has the biggest network in the world in terms of number of cities they are covering. They operate in 230 cities and so tourists in many new cities will find access to India. Turkish airlines has offices in all these cities and if their operational scale expands in India, it will be a win,win proposition for both the countries,” he said.