First Russian tourist flight since crisis lands in Turkish resort

AFP , Saturday 9 Jul 2016

The first Russian charter flight carrying tourists to Turkey since a diplomatic crisis erupted eight months ago landed on Saturday in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya, the airport said.

The Rossiya Airlines plane touched down at Antalya's international airport at around 0730 GMT after President Vladimir Putin last month officially lifted restrictions on tourism to Turkey.

The plane, flying from Moscow's Vnukovo airport, was carrying 189 tourists, NTV television said.

Russia had banned the sale of agency tours to Turkey as retaliation for Ankara's shooting-down of a Russian war plane in November on the Syrian border.

The move dealt a crushing blow to the Turkish tourism industry, which is hugely reliant on Russian tourists especially on its Mediterranean coast.

However Putin on June 30 allowed once again the sale of tours and charter tourist flights from Russia to Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to the Russian leader that Moscow said contained an apology for the downing of the jet.

Analysts say that Ankara was keen to repair its relations with Moscow after the crisis with a key regional neighbour left Turkey dangerously isolated on the international stage.

However, the Turkish tourism industry is expected to be dealt another blow by tourists staying away following the June 28 triple suicide attack at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul that killed 47 people.

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