Turkey launches healthy accreditation

In an attempt to encourage Turkey’s travel industry to transition to “healthy tourism” before its competitors, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has launched the ‘Healthy Tourism Certification’ programme for the summer season of 2020.

The certification covers a broad range of measures on transport and accommodation, plus the health condition of employees of the facilities and passengers.

International certification institutions will grant this certificate, although it is not yet clear which ones have been chosen.

The certification programme is to ensure that tourists in Turkey will be in a safe and hygienic environment and feel comfortable during their visit.

The programme covers preventive and protective steps including air, marine and land transportation, arrival ports, all facilities providing a holiday experience, health condition of employees in the industry and tourists themselves.

All transport and from accommodation facilities will be encouraged, but not compelled, to take all precautions by obtaining the certificate.

Healthy Tourism Certification covers the health and safety of passengers and employees, and precautions taken at facilities and taken by transport services.

Regarding passenger safety, it covers the precautions required to be implemented in terms of passengers from the time of check-in until their check-out. It includes not allowing passengers without mask to enter terminals, providing free of charge masks to passengers, application of thermal camera and body temperature measurement at the entrance of terminal buildings, preparing disinfection carpets and disinfection cabins, and if required, applying the required protocols for the passengers that are diagnosed as an at risk group in terms of travelling.

Hotel and restaurant safety covers steps required to prevent spreading of the outbreak. Processes that need to be implemented by the accommodation, food and beverage facilities are defined under the scope of the certificate.

Certification ensures implementation and controlling of measures such as social distance and contact, isolation.

Transport safety includes certain measures and regulations for air, land and marine transport. It covers training of personnel of transport vehicles, having an immunity certificate for the personnel, sterilisation of transport vehicles and arrangement of passenger transport systems according to safe distance standards.

The programme includes 132 criteria to be complied with, such as hygiene standards, logistical reorganisation to ensure social distancing and personnel training.

Turkey has also completed pandemic protocols and certification protocols for airports, domestic airlines, highways and tourism facilities

Hotels and other locations can begin the certification process this month. The tourism authority will start listing those with the certificate from June 1.

No traveller can enter the country without a certificate proving a negative COVID-19 test. The authorities will oblige all foreigners and local citizens returning from abroad to undergo testing for COVID-19 at the country’s airports. Testing will be carried out before passing through passport control and will take no more than two to three minutes. Each passenger will get the results in five or six hours, and if it turns out to be positive, they will immediately be isolated while contacts are being established.

It remains unclear how much the new regulations will substantially decrease the risks of contracting coronavirus. There is also a risk that facilities could say they are applying the correct protocols on the application to obtain certification and then fail to abide.

The new measures could reassure passengers, who may be attracted to Turkey due to a declining lira that has lowered prices for food and accommodation, and cheap flights on Turkish Airlines, discount carriers and charters. Airlines are set to resume regular flights by June.

The certification programme could protect carriers and hotels against legal action in case a guest becomes sick or dies.