Turkey welcomed around 9.5 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2020, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced on Friday.

Given the worldwide lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the number of foreigners visiting the country fell by 74% annually, the ministry’s data showed.

While the country hosted 4 million foreign visitors in the past two months – August and September – it was only around 50,000 in April and May when the pandemic peaked in Turkey.

In the nine-month period, Istanbul remained Turkey’s largest tourist attraction with 38.28% of all visitors – around 3.6 million.

The Mediterranean resort of Antalya followed in the same period with 25.56% or more than 2.4 million foreign visitors, and the north-western province of Edirne, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, recorded the third highest proportion with 13.16%.

Around 7.2 million visitors came to Turkey by air, 2.12 million by highways, 148,550 sea routes and 4,523 railways.

Russians accounted for around 15% or almost 1.4 million visitors, followed by Germans with 9.65% (912,749 visitors) and Ukrainians with around 8.17% (772,851).

In September, the country recorded 2.2 million foreign visitors, a decrease of 59.40% from the previous year.

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