Why does Turkey not fear a country?

For more than a year, the Turks have been hoping for the return of the tourists and then they see it: Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy wanted to give the public the Corona all-clear with a promotional video, to beat the drum internationally for the inexpensive hotels, sunny beaches and world-famous sights of his country . Friendly smiling faces could be seen in the film, behind yellow mouth and nose masks that read: "Enjoy! I'm vaccinated!"

That was well meant. The government had finally promised that all people working in tourism would be vaccinated against Corona so that visitors from Germany, France or Russia would not have to fear infections in Turkish hotels, on the shuttle bus or at the airports. But the advertising video did not go down well with its own citizens: the minister did not get applause for his trailer with the tourism employees, who were happily awaiting guests, but a shit storm. And that from his own clientele.

No sooner had the ministry shared the promotional video than social media ran hot, the press quoted angry hotel workers and cursing restaurant workers: You humiliate us, you rob us of our honor. Or, more specifically: "You screwed up last season. Even with your lies, you didn't bring any vacationers into the country." Minister Ersoy, who himself comes from the tourism business, makes fun of the people who, for lack of vacationers, have had to fear for their bare livelihoods for a year. Ersoy should kindly resign.

Bankruptcy wave in the tourism industry

The minister has not done that so far, but he has at least withdrawn the controversial masked video. The damage seems difficult to make up for with or without the film. After the most recent 17-day lockdown, the Turks are worn down: people were only allowed to go shopping, Ramadan and the crowning Bayram holidays were ruined for them. Now everyone is waiting for guests, tourism is an important source of foreign currency, the holiday business accounted for twelve percent of the economy in 2019.

But the prospects are bad. Experts fear that after the vacation year 2020, the year 2021 will also be written off and a real bankruptcy wave in the industry must be expected. And that while good-weather competitors like Greece and Italy are already opening up to tourism again.

This is actually supposed to happen in Turkey too, but the country remains a high-risk area. And not only doctors and Covid experts suspect that the numbers specified by the President cannot be met. They fear that they may be embellished like last year: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ordered the number of new infections to be reduced to 5,000 a day in the shortest possible time. Before the lockdown, the number had been more than 60,000 cases, now it has leveled off at around 11,000 cases.

Curfew and open beaches

The lockdown will therefore not be completely lifted by the beginning of June. Malls and shops are opening again, so far only supermarkets and grocery stores have been accessible, from 9 p.m. there is curfew. And at the weekend there is a 24-hour ban on going out, only grocery shopping is allowed. Museums are closed, restaurants and cafes are also closed during the week, they are only allowed to deliver to the front door. When the children will go back to school has yet to be clarified.

However, as it did during the 17-day lockdown, the strict regime does not apply to everyone: the city centers, parks and beaches are open to tourists so that at least some money can be earned and the reputation as a worthwhile and inexpensive holiday destination can be maintained. And those Turks who work in systemically relevant professions and companies were allowed to go to work and earn money even during the three-week lockdown: Millions of people from the working population are said to have been exempted from the lock, life largely went on in the large industrial suburbs as usual, others got special permits thanks to relationships.

But the others come away empty-handed. Corona has long since changed the social climate. The official inflation is already over 17 percent, some experts are assuming 30 percent in real terms. The people are becoming impoverished, and reports of poverty suicides are increasing in the media. The economy has been paralyzed since 2019, but Covid-19 has accelerated everything dramatically: According to a recent survey, almost 27 percent now live below the poverty line. 53 percent manage to continue living reasonably tolerably with their families - in the country that continues to present itself to vacationers as a paradise.