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The Northern Cyprus Tourism and Cooperation Meeting in Istanbul

Translated from Turkish…..

Within the scope of the promotional event of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Northern Cyprus Tourism and Cooperation Meeting and reception was held in Istanbul with the participation of Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and a large number of guests.

The Minister met with the sector representatives at the Tourism Cooperation Meeting and listened to the problems.

The meeting was chaired by Tourism and Environment Minister Ünal Üstel and was held with the participation of important tour operators and hotel officials and tourism sector representatives from Istanbul and TRNC and lasted for about 2 hours. Minister Üstel, made the opening speech and expressed his happiness to be together with the participants and wanted to listen to their problems

The event was held in order to examine the problems of TRNC tourism, the problems experienced by the tourism sector and why the country’s tourism decreased in 2019, Üstel said that he had introduced an initiative to take measures to avoid this decline in 2020.

Explaining that there was enough time to talk about everything at the meeting, the tourism sector representatives who attended the meeting said they wanted to offer the problems they faced and their opinions and suggestions in order to eliminate these problems.

Underlining that tourism is an indispensable sector for the country, Minister Üstel pointed out that the sector covering the current deficit of the budget is education and tourism and said, “UBP governments attach great importance to tourism. The most obvious indicator of this is that Prime Minister Ersin Tatar is also attending the meeting.”

After the opening speech of the Minister of Tourism and Environment Ünal Üstel, the meeting commenced.   During the meeting which lasted for about 2 hours Minister Üstel listened to the problems, opinions and suggestions of the sector representatives one by one and replied.

After the meeting, a reception was held with the participation of Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and many guests.

Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, in his speech at the reception, recalled that he served in the Istanbul media for 10 years, and as the Prime Minister of the TRNC he was extremely happy to be in Istanbul.

Tatar emphasized that the TRNC is going through a great improvement, “Here I am giving this message. Several sectors have emerged in the TRNC during the last 45 years.  Turkey may well have problems because of south Cyprus, we have had troubled days, but we all work together, we have confidence in Turkey and Turkey also trusts us and the Turkish nation have achieved a very important position for the future in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Tatar pointed out the developments in the Mediterranean and made the following evaluations:

“Let Ecevit and Erbakan’s place be Paradise”. They gave instructions and soldiers came to the Island, they brought peace to Cyprus, they came to protect the life and property of their compatriots in Cyprus. We’re looking at after 45 years the TRNC has emerged as an extremely important state for Turkey’s security. History can never erase it. Therefore, I speak to the Prime Minister of Greece who came to Cyprus and gave a message. The Turkish nation is behind us. Talk as much as you want. There are two peoples in Cyprus. No one can take the rights of the Turkish people arising from international agreements. I say this as the Prime Minister of the TRNC”.

Stating that the Ottoman Empire had 70,000 martyrs during the conquest of Cyprus, Tatar told about the problems faced by the Turkish presence on the island throughout history. Tatar, stating that Turkey and TRNC have an extremely strong position in the Eastern Mediterranean, “We have suffered a lot. We have to strengthen the economic structure even more. With the blessing of the water brought from Anatolia, the TRNC state will continue to give prosperity and well-being to its people. There is competition. There are comparisons with the neighbours. Again at this point, we expect much from the motherland. We expect more tourists and students. ” he said.

In his speech Unal Ustel gave information about the meeting held before the reception which was attended by many sector representatives.

Prior to the reception today, we had meetings with tour operators marketing the TRNC for about 2 hours. We examined all the issues. I thank you personally on behalf of my Ministry and on behalf of my country for attending this beautiful reception under the auspices of our Prime Minister.”

Minister Ustel continued in his speech as follows:

“ The Turkish Cypriots have been fighting for their existence in order to maintain their Turkish presence on the island, and thanks Motherland Republic of Turkey for its successful help and support for the welfare of the Turkish Cypriot people.  The TRNC was established at the expense of being isolated from the world market and is supported with the guarantee of the Republic of Turkey.

The only reason the Cyprus negotiations have been going on for half a century and not reaching a result is that the Greek Cypriots see themselves as the sole owner of the island and class the Turkish Cypriots as minorities rather than political equals.

The reason we come together today is for the development of the areas of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus tourism, the identification of the obstacles before us and what we can do together.  Because of being an island country, transportation to the country is only possible by air and sea.

Due to both the increase in foreign exchange rates and the serious efforts, pressure and smearing policies of the Greek Cypriot propaganda, especially with the cost of flight ticket prices, adversely affect the tourism and economy of the country.

The number of aircraft companies flying to our country has decreased and consequently the competition has been eliminated. When the rise in foreign exchange is added to this negative situation, it is inevitable that air ticket prices would increase.  Most flights for TRNC are carried out from motherland Turkey. High area taxes between the two countries are also among the factors that increase ticket prices.  Tourists visiting the country, and also  the higher education sector, which is another tourism sector in the TRNC, are also adversely affected by the high tariffs on air tickets.

Since the first day when I became the Minister of Tourism and Environment of the new government established under Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, the leader of the National Unity Party, we have been working on the obstacles and problems and how they can be overcome.

It is envisaged that a reduction of 260TL may be achieved by the abolition of the area taxes between the two states within the framework of the measures we have determined as the Ministry, in order to reduce the ticket prices in air transportation.

With the new airport which will be put into service soon, we will have an airport that will allow the landing of large-bodied passenger planes as well as more passenger capacity. We believe that this will bring great relief in air transportation and cheaper fares.

I recently recent met with the Republic of Turkey Culture and Tourism Minister, Mr. Mehmet Ersoy and we discussed the obstacles and the way forward for the tourism sector. 

There has also been a meeting with Turkish Airlines General Manager Mr. Bilal Ekşi, THY technical managers and Anadolu Jet officials and various suggestions were made.

We also requested the creation of new destinations as well as increasing the flights of Anadolu Jet to existing destinations in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Gaziantep, which will allow more tourists to come to our country. We asked for the resumption of the Black Sea – Hatay flights. It was confirmed that Ercan – Hatay flights will start on 8th August.

Our country also hosts a large number of citizens of Black Sea origin. We requested that these citizens should be able to travel directly to the place where they were born and grew up, and that their families living in the Black Sea area would be able to come to the TRNC easily.  We received the answer that it is not possible to institute the Ercan – Trabzon flights due to the lack of sufficient aircraft, but it will be possible to launch them in the near future.

Another obstacle to the foreign tourists coming to our country via Turkey, and entering Turkey with the single-entry tourist visa, after visiting the TRNC it is not possible for them to re-enter into Turkey. This is an important negativity for us, and during our meeting with Mr Ekşi, in consultation with the relevant authorities of the Republic of Turkey, we asked that after visiting the TRNC tourists returning to Turkey should not have to obtain a further visa.

We also discussed the need to travel to the TRNC, as in previous years, without the need for passengers to get off the plane, especially in relation to THY aircraft departing from the UK. Thereupon, the necessary instructions were given to start technical work with the relevant people. 

Mr. Ekşi accepted the proposal of an increase from 15 kilos to 20 kilos luggage allowance in respect of Turkish Airlines promotional tickets and the necessary arrangements will be made immediately, he confirmed.

We are committed, as the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, with all of our facilities, to bring more visitors to the TRNC, including the Republic of Turkey and are determining regulations for intensive promotional activities in many countries of the world.  We depend on our homeland emotional bond to encourage all of our brothers to visit the TRNC at least once and are launching  promotional activities in many provinces.

To pave the way for the tourism sector we will do whatever needs to be done for the development of the country and the most important point will be the contributions of our esteemed sector representatives.  I express my belief that you will contribute to the promotion, development and growth of the TRNC with your support and thank you all for your attendance. ”

At the reception Istanbul Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Coskun Yilmaz attended on behalf of Turkey Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy. Coskun Yilmaz, gave a speech and said that it is very important for people living in Turkey, to visit Cyprus as not only is it a safe island for us, it is part of us, with its tourism, culture and art.  Every Turkish citizen and every Muslim and their families should make a discovery trip to where our personal community and nation lives.