September 27, 2019 / 10:45 AM / 5 months ago

Turkey will make up for tourists lost in Thomas Cook collapse: minister

FILE PHOTO: British passengers queue up at a check-in service at Dalaman Airport after Thomas Cook, the world's oldest travel firm, collapsed stranding hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history, in Dalaman, Turkey, September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will be able to make up for the number of tourists lost after Thomas Cook collapsed earlier this week, Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said on Friday, announcing that several airlines are expected to increase flights to the country.

Tourism is a major source of income for Turkey, helping to rein in its current account deficit, especially in the summer months. Around 40 million tourists visited in 2018, bringing in $29.5 billion, according to official data.

The head of Turkey’s Hoteliers Federation said on Monday that Turkey could miss out on 600,000-700,000 tourists a year following the collapse of Thomas Cook. The Tourism Ministry has said earlier that it was working with the Finance Ministry to extend a loan support package to businesses that were affected.

Speaking at a conference in Istanbul to announce Turkey’s tourism strategy, Ersoy said Easyjet (EZJ.L) had guaranteed that it will provide additional capacity for 350,000 people annually to Turkish holiday destinations.

Ersoy added that Turkish Airlines (THYAO.IS) and its joint venture with Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), Sunexpress, would each schedule one additional flight per day to Dalaman Airport, located near several Aegean coastal holiday destinations.

He said Britain’s Jet2 airline is also expected to provide additional flights and British Airways is expected to double its flights to Dalaman to six per week as of next year and to gradually increase its flights to the Mediterranean coastal province of Antalya to six per week.

He said EasyJet, British Airways and Jet2 officials would be in Turkey next week to discuss details and sign a deal on agreements reached to increase flights.

Reporting by Ceyda Caglayan; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Louise Heavens

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