ISTANBUL: Turkish Airlines Vice-President for Sales Muhammed Fatih Durmaz met with Palestinian Authority Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ayah on Saturday in Bethlehem. According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, “Turkish Airlines is ready for cooperation to boost tourism in Palestine.”
Ankara is a supporter of the Palestinians and also has relations with Hamas in Gaza. Turkey has been one of the major critics of the US recognition of Jerusalem last year.
According to reports, Durmaz expressed interest in cooperation to “facilitate [bringing] more tourists into Palestine.” More than 130,000 Turkish citizens visited Palestinian Authority-controlled areas last year, the report said. Ammon News reported that Ma’ayah discussed the importance of Turkish-Palestinian relations and Turkey’s “familiarity” with Palestinian issues.
Other reports noted that this was a “strategic destination” for Turkey and that there is a lot of potential for these tourists. Turkey has become more important in recent years in this respect for Palestinians with organized tours and delegations.
Hürriyet newspaper reported that the visit was part of a broader Turkish effort to also boost tourism in Jordan, in which Durmaz also held meeting with Jordanians. Turkish media is excited, particularly the pro-government media such as Yena Şafak. It is part of a broader support for Palestinians issues across Turkey’s media and public.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increasingly encouraged Muslims to visit Jerusalem, particularly in light of the US moving its embassy to the city.