The Balkan countries are the foremost choice of Turks for holidaying. This is thanks to visa liberalization, geographical proximity, cultural partnership, affordability and low exchange rates.
“The Balkans are very attractive to Turkish tourists as they offer visa-free travel, are affordable, and are close to Türkiye, (the new name for Turkey)” says Muhammet Ali Köprü, the head of a tour operator company, Malitur. He notes that while tourism has been one of the most affected sectors by the pandemic, the demands have reached high levels with the normalization.
Underlining that the Balkans is a popular destination in all seasons, Köprü says: “Turkish citizens prefer countries that do not require visas for an easier holiday. The Balkans is the optimum choice for historical and cultural travels, rather than the classic beach vacation.”
Köprü also points out that it is very possible to come across many Ottoman artifacts in cities such as Sarajevo, Skopje, Ohrid and Prishtina. “The Balkans is a ‘geography connected to our hearts.’ We have many similarities culturally and gastronomically, which is very suitable for the Turks’ taste.”
“There are both air and road alternatives in the Balkan tours, which save time compared to long and tiring travels,” Köprü said, noting that there are direct flights from both international airports in Istanbul.
Amid the euro’s upward trend, the Turkish Lira maintains its strength against the currencies of the Balkan countries, Köprü informed.
“Turkish Lira is still valuable against Serbia’s dinar, Romania’s Leu, Albania’s lek and North Macedonia’s dinar. Therefore, tour prices are also cheaper,” he explains.
Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania stand out in travel preferences. They grant visa liberalization to Turkish citizens.
Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that citizens of Türkiye and Serbia are able to visit with their identity cards. Some 300,000 tourists visited Türkiye from Serbia in 2022. Traveling with ID cards will increase this number.
Additionally, Türkiye and Bosnia and Herzegovina also will allow their citizens to travel between the two countries with identity cards.