By Jonathan Rest in Istanbul
Omer Celik, Turkey’s minister of culture and tourism, today promised to look into the issue of waiving the country’s visa requirements should Istanbul be awarded the right to host the Olympic Games in 2020.
As with all Olympics, accredited visitors to the host country will not require a visa, but spectators will.
In Turkey, visas are issued at point of disembarkation, with seemingly no set price charged.
For example, UK visitors can pay in any of sterling (£10), Euros (€15) or US dollar ($20) to obtain a visa, while Canadian passport holders must pay C$60 for the right to enter Turkey because of the reciprocal nature of the deal with the Canadian government.
Celik, who met with the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission today to discuss Istanbul 2020’s accommodation plans, said: “The issue of visas relates to policies between countries. No decision regarding this issue [the waiving of visas] has been taken so far. Of course we would like to have a more fluid process for visa applicants and we will take additional measures.
“We have no clear strategy at present, but there will be no red tape and there will be a fluid flow of visitors coming in to the country.”
Meanwhile, Feza Solaklar, head of accommodation for Istanbul 2020, has told the evaluation commission that the city is well prepared for the influx of visitors that an Olympic Games brings.
Istanbul has a present inventory of 55,229 hotel rooms, which will be supplemented by further new hotel developments and other programmes to ensure that the city will meet its pledge to deliver over 100,000 rooms in time for the games in 2020, of which only one- third will actually be needed during the event.
Solaklar also cited new tourism figures that revealed that 9 million foreign people visited Istanbul in 2012, up 16 per cent on the prior year, making it the third most visited city in Europe after London and Paris.