Turkey’s government is drawing up plans to reopen the pandemic-hit tourism sector, a vital source of hard-currency revenues for the ailing economy, but “new normal” formulas for travel and accommodation could fall short of salvaging the sector and premature timing risks prolonging the COVID-19 contagion.

A return to the “old normal” appears a distant prospect for the global tourism industry, which, along with aviation, has suffered the heaviest blows from the pandemic. While 2020 is widely regarded as a lost year for tourism, the prospects of full recovery thereafter remain murky. The global tourism turnover was nearly $1.5 trillion last year, with services sold to some 1.5 billion customers. Extensive damage is expected in related sectors such as transportation, food industries and agriculture as well as sub-sectors catering to travelers. European and Asian countries had the largest shares from global tourism revenues last year — 39% and 30%, respectively — and they are now bound to lose the most.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez