Turkiye’s tourist hurdle: Steep visa fees dampen holiday spirits for Oman residents

Oman Thursday 21/December/2023 12:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Turkiye’s tourist hurdle: Steep visa fees  dampen holiday spirits for Oman residents

MUSCAT: In the midst of the festive season and the much-anticipated Christmas break, the hearts of residents in Oman are set on planning their holiday getaways to embrace the spirit of celebration and welcome the New Year.

However, a shadow looms over the excitement, especially for those eyeing Turkiye as their destination of choice.

Turkiye has long been a popular attraction for people in Oman seeking a memorable holiday experience. However, recent developments in visa regulations have cast a pall over these aspirations. Travellers intending to explore the beauty of Turkiye have encountered an unexpected hurdle: exorbitant visa fees.

For those ineligible for the convenient online visa application, the process demands a physical submission at the Turkish Visa Centre in Al Khuwair. The shock sets in when faced with the price tag: A staggering OMR76 per person for a single entry visa.

This revelation has forced many potential travellers, like R. Banerjee, a senior marketing executive with dreams of a winter vacation with his family of four, to reconsider their plans. The prospect of shelling out OMR304 merely for visas is a daunting deterrent.

“It’s disheartening to shell out OMR76 for each entry visa,” Banerjee lamented. “Turkiye has always been an enticing tourist destination, and I had envisioned spending Christmas and New Year in Istanbul. The unexpectedly high visa fees have shattered these plans. Such steep costs don’t bode well for promoting tourism.”

The sentiment resonates among travellers like Mohammed Ashfaq, who recently returned from a captivating week in Istanbul. “Turkiye truly shines as a tourist hotspot, especially this time of the year,” he remarked. “However, the steep visa fees, particularly for families, are prohibitive. While my company covered my expenses, taking my family on a similar trip seems implausible due to the high costs.”

Ashfaq’s sentiment underscores a broader concern: the stifling effect of these fees on tourism promotion in Turkey. Even tour opertaors acknowledge the hindrance posed by these exorbitant visa fees in positioning Turkiye as an attractive destination with a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming that the steep visa fees has hit them.

A leading Muscat-based travel operator highlighted the marked decline in bookings for Turkiye since the alterations in visa fee structures earlier in the year.

This shift has notably affected Indian expats due to the intricate and expensive process of obtaining visas for those without specific other visas, dampening enthusiasm for tours to Istanbul.

Further exacerbating the issue are concerns echoed by hotel operators in Istanbul.

They fear that these high visa fees send the wrong message about Turkiye, a country boasting world-renowned landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. This sentiment reflects a growing consensus: the steep visa costs act as a substantial barrier to promoting Turkiye as a tourist-friendly haven.

In the face of these challenges, stakeholders—be it travellers, airline officials, or hotel operators—unanimously agree: the exorbitant visa fees pose a formidable obstacle to positioning Turkiye as an accessible and inviting destination, potentially dimming the allure of its tourism industry, especially during festive seasons.