Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke today at the opening ceremony of the World Tourism Forum taking place in Istanbul. Yildirim began his speech by saying, “Tourism is a very important sector and activity for peace and fraternity. I see all those that are working in this sector as voluntary peace envoys and salute all of them.”
“To see tourism as merely an economic activity would be incomplete. Tourism is beyond this, it is a meeting of cultures, of civilisations. Insofar as we bring cultures together, we will ensure that prejudices will be overcome. Tourism is an important tool for bringing different peoples closer, which in turn will further international relations,” Yildirim added.
Turkey was hit hard by a ban Moscow introduced on all Russian tourists and chartered flights to Turkey after Ankara shot down a Russian fighter jet it claimed infringed its border while conducting operations in Syria. Turkey saw a sharp decrease in arrivals last year, with civil instability and terror attacks also keeping visitors away from the once-popular destination.
Yildirim encouraged people to not be deterred by the large-scale attacks that have rocked Turkey in the past 18 months saying, “There is nowhere free of terror. To be afraid of terror, to intimidate with terror is what the terrorists want. This is why I proudly and confidently say that Turkey is as safe and secure as America, Istanbul is as safe as Paris, Ankara is as safe as Sarajevo and Izmir is as safe as Baku.”