Turkey needs foreign currency, grants passport-free entry to more foreign citizens

Levent Kenez/Stockholm

With a decision taken by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and published in the Official Gazette this week, Bulgarian citizens are now allowed to enter Turkey without a passport or visa. Bulgarian tourists go to Turkey mainly for shopping because of the depreciation of the lira against the euro.

Turkey recently allowed passport-free entry to Norwegian citizens. Although the Turkish Foreign Ministry initially denied this after a backlash from the opposition, which said Turkish citizens should have the same opportunity as a reciprocity requirement, Foreign Affairs spokesman Tanju Bilgiç then had to announce that due to the fact that Norwegian citizens could not extend their passports due to the global chip crisis, and at the request of the Turkish tourism sector, Norwegians will be able to enter Turkey with their national identity cards.


Citizens not only of Norway and Bulgaria, but also of 16 other countries can enter Turkey only with their identity card. These countries are Germany, Belgium, France, Georgia, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Ukraine, Greece, Poland and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), a state recognized only by Turkey.

Turkish citizens can travel visa-free to Georgia, KKTC and Ukraine only among these countries.

German, Belgian, French, Spanish, Swiss, Luxembourgish and Portuguese citizens were even allowed to enter Turkey with their expired passports.

If Turkey, which is a tourist destination, offers this ease of entry to visitors, making tourism professionals happy, there are also those who are against these privileges. Leading opposition MP Utku Çakırözer says Turkey has been stripped of its national honor due to its deteriorating economy and failed to stand up for the rights of its citizens. According to Çakırözer, it is outrageous that Turks can only enter Norway, where citizens of 62 countries can enter visa-free, by obtaining a visa.

The issue that Turkish citizens have the most trouble with when traveling is the Schengen visa, which they must obtain to enter the European Union. Turkey filed an objection with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) regarding the abuse of the Schengen visa system on July 5. The complaint revealed that 4% of Schengen visa refusals in 2014 had risen to 12.7% by 2020. The report drew attention to issues such as unnecessary and too many documents, high fees and the need to apply in person.

According to official data, the Turkish Central Bank‘s total reserves decreased by $1.042 billion in the week of July 22 compared to the previous week, from $99.365 billion to $98.323 billion.

Net reserves, which were $6.4 billion the previous week, rose to $6.7 billion the week of July 22. Net reserves excluding swaps decreased to minus $55.4 billion from minus $54.8 billion.

Source: Turkish Statistical Institute

Due to the pandemic, Turkey’s tourism revenue suffered significant losses in 2020 and 2021. Although revenue doubled in 2021 from the previous year and reached $24.5 billion, the tourism industry has yet to recover considering it was $34.5 billion in 2019.

Personal spending accounted for $19.7 billion and package travel spending accounted for $4.8 billion. Tourists visiting Turkey spent $834 per person in 2021.

The Ministry of Tourism expects 42 million tourists and $35 billion in revenue in 2022. However, the number of tourists from Russia and Ukraine, which are among the three countries with the highest number of tourists, is expected to decrease due to the ongoing war. in Ukraine.

Another area where Turkey derives revenue is foreign currency brought in by foreigners living in Turkey. Turkey has welcomed a record number of foreigners in recent years due to migration and by granting citizenship in exchange for investment, acquisition of real estate or deposit in Turkish banks, qu ‘it has been in place for some time to meet its currency needs.

The number of foreigners legally living in Turkey in 2021 has reached an all-time high. According to official statistics obtained by Nordic Monitor, there were a total of 1,300,220 foreigners with residence permits in Turkey in 2021, compared to 886,652 in 2020. The most common type of residence permit was a residence permit. short-term stay granted to 954,812 people. Foreigners who own real estate in Turkey and tourists who have extended their stay most often apply for a short-term residence permit. There are 114,732 people in Turkey with a student residence permit. Foreign nationals married to a Turkish citizen or having children with him benefit from a family residence permit, which was granted to 89,595 people in 2021.

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