Turkey seeks e-visas for its citizens traveling to India, said Firat Sunel, Turkish Ambassador to India. According to the Turkish Ambassador to India, trade between both countries has doubled in the last decade and he expects it to reach a capacity of 20 billion soon

“India and Turkey have a very long relationship. During covid, Turkiye helped India, and during the earthquake last year that claimed 50,000 lives, India was among the first nations to send help. This is the spiritual basis of our relationship. Our economic relations are going very well. In 2012, our bilateral trade volume was 6.6 billion, and within 10 years, in 2022, it had become almost 13.66 billion. Our aim is to reach 20 billion, and we will reach that target very soon. It is a realistic target.”

Growth driver

According to him, tourism will be a great growth driver for both countries and a great source of revenue. “Toursim is a very important pillar of cultural diplomacy.Turkiye is becoming an important destination for Indian tourists because we have several commonalities and cultural similarities.”

Firat Sunel added that Germany is the largest contributor to tourism, with over 5.50 lakh travellers visiting Turkiye every year, followed by the Russian Federation and the UK, followed by others. In 2023, we had over 3.70 lakh travelers from the UK. I believe that India is an emerging market for Turkey and can enter the top 10 in the next three years. Our aim is to eventually get to 1 million travellers from India.”

request for e-visas

He said that MICE is among the top contributors to travel between India and Turkey. He said that, just as Indians are allowed e-visas to enter Turkey, it was the Turkish government’s request to receive the facility of e-visas as well. “It has been one of our agendas, and we have made a request to grant e-visas for Turkish citizens into India as well.”

Recently, several countries have allowed visa-free entry for Indians. When asked if it was on the agenda for Turkey to provide visa-free entry to Indians, he said, “Indian tourists are allowed e-visas, and we are making the visa processes easier. We do not have a decision on visa-free entry for Indians yet.”

In the June-September quarter last year, 1,26,192 travelled from Turkey to India, whereas 1,21,650 travelled to Turkey from India, according to the DGCA data. It is to be noted that the data doesn’t give a bifurcation on whether these are Indian or Turkish citizens.

However, Sunel said that besides these destinations, with the promotions and marketing in India in six cities, it is likely to increase. “India and Turkey have a cultural inclination. We have also seen an uptick in weddings. We also see a great opportunity in this segment. Besides this, there is a lot of heritage and beach tourism, among others.”