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Russia PM Putin Lifts Turkey Travel Ban

turkey-russia-flagsRussians can once again resume travel to Turkey after President Vladimir Putin announced that he was lifting a ban on tourism there following phone talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

Russia imposed sanctions including the ban of all air traffic to Turkey, after a Russian bomber was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet near the Turkish-Syrian border late last year.

Speaking to government officials, the Russian president said it was time “to begin the process of normalizing trade relations” with Turkey and called for the re-initiation of bilateral economic talks with Turkish authorities.

Putin also said a ban on charter flights between the two countries as well as on travel package sales would be lifted. “The ban on sales of tours to Turkey has been lifted. The Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm) is currently conducting work to restore cooperation with the Turkish Republic in the tourism sphere,” Rosturizm said in a statement on Thursday, advising however tourists planning trips to Turkey, to take into account the high level of terrorist threat in the country.

Turkey’s tourism industry took a massive blow last November when the sanctions were imposed marking a plunge in foreign arrivals. In May, the number of Russian tourists nosedived by 92 percent as the number of overall arrivals fell by 35 percent to 2.49 million compared to a year earlier, Bloomberg reports.

Turkey’s predicament took another tragic toll after a series of terrorist attacks, including the most recent on Tuesday, at Istanbul Airport by Islamic State suicide bombers which killed 44 people and left at least 238 people wounded. The Russian president said Mr Erdogan had extended his assurances “that the Turkish government will do all they can to ensure the safety of our citizens” in Turkey.

Tourism accounts for 6.2 percent of Turkey’s economic output, according to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, and 8 percent of employment.

Putin and Erdogan have pledged to meet at the earliest opportunity, most likely during the G20 Summit in China this September.

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