On April 19, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy launched an initiative to certify tourist attractions as ‘coronavirus-free’ that would come into force when the pandemic slows to ensure the safety of Turkey’s many tourist sites.
The Minister said the ministry had been working with other relevant ministries and industry representatives to decide on the guidelines and regulations for the certification system.
Turkey has now initiated a partial normalization process for the tourism sector as the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has proven effective and a decline in the number of new infections and deaths is reflected in the figures.
Guidelines for ‘coronavirus-free’ certification
The normalization process for the industry will include various measures, from imposing social distancing rules in crowded places to providing face masks to the tourists.
According to the newly announced action plan, a certification system will be implemented for both hotels and transfer vehicles. All details were taken into consideration for the certification program, from the training of the hotel employees to the reorganizing of buffets, restaurants, meeting rooms or pool areas.
Disinfectants will be available in every transfer vehicle and the aisle seats of the vehicles will be left empty.
Hotels will be given a maximum occupancy permit of 60% and hotels will provide masks to tourists without one.
Visitors’ temperatures will be checked and the entrance of the hotels and lines marking social distancing will be used at reception and in the lobby.
Hotels will display warning signs about the virus at various points throughout the facility and will distribute brochures and information notes in different languages.
Disinfectants will be accessible throughout the facilities from the lobby to floors, elevators and corridors.
Following the customers’ departure from the hotels, rooms will be left empty for 12 hours for refreshing and ventilation. During this period, frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, touch screens, control panels, countertops, hand washing stations, water heaters, televisions, air conditioners and toilets will be regularly disinfected.
Sitting areas in the lobby, resting, or waiting areas will be redesigned to prevent people from hanging about in groups, crowding the area. To accommodate this, the number of seats and chairs will be reduced to the minimum and social distance requirements will be marked out.
Hotel staff in charge of room cleaning will wear personal protective equipment while working.
Quarantine areas in hotels
One of the changes that will come into force during this period of the pandemic, and possibly post-pandemic, will be quarantine areas created at hotels for emergencies. Guests displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be taken to the quarantine area.
Protective clothing will be available for the hotel staff to prevent contamination while exclusive training will be given to the staff on how to handle a possible occurrence of an infected case.
The open buffet system will remain but several changes will be implemented. The foods will be presented from behind glass panels and hotel staff will serve the food, while products and materials such as sugar, salt, spices, toothpicks will be offered in disposable packages.
Hand sanitizers will be placed at the entrance of restaurants and cafes.
Social distancing marks will also be placed at the entrance and to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) between the tables.
Tea or coffee machines, all kinds of beverage machines and similar devices in common use will be removed and the beverages will be served by the staff.
Pool and beach areas
Social distancing marks will be placed between sun-beds in the hotel grounds, around pools and on beach areas.
The chlorine level in swimming pool water will be kept between 1-3 parts per million (ppm) in outdoor pools and between 1 and 1.5 ppm in indoor pools.
Warning signs instructing guests to shower before entering the pool will be displayed in a prominent place.
Fitness centers and spa areas will be closed this season.
Mete Ay welcomes the initiative
Mete Ay, chairman of the Çalış Tourism Association speaking to Fethiye Times earlier, welcomed the initiative saying the certification will reassure holiday makers of the measures being taken to ensure their health and safety.
“We have received the measures for five-star hotels which are being implemented and we expect the measures for two-star hotels, three-star hotels and villas next week. The hotels will open in phases as the measures are put in place and certificates issued”
The Ministry of Transport is preparing to launch domestic flights after the Bayram holiday and International flights after 12th June, starting with Russia and Germany.
Before Mr Ay went on to talk about the flights, he made a phone call to the Director of Operation and Business Management YDA Dalaman Airport, Ahmet Orçun Songur, to confirm the tentative plan for the reopening of Dalaman Airport. He then told us,
“The first priority is to make sure Dalaman airport is safe for passengers. Disinfecting procedures, social distancing measures and thermal scanning will all be in place before flights resume”
He was able to confirm that Dalaman Airport would reopen for International flights on 12 June 2020. At present, we have no detailed information about airlines or flight schedules.
He also confirmed the, again tentative, plans to extend flight schedules into the winter months.
“We have lost April, May and June of the 2020 season and there are talks in progress with various agencies to extend the flight schedules into October, November and December 2020. We are also looking at the possibility of starting scheduled flights from 1 March 2021.”
This information is correct at the date of publishing (6 May 2020)