Starting 23 December 2023, Türkiye extended its visa-free entry programme to nationals of four GCC countries including the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

The decision, issued through a presidential decree by Tayyip Erdogan, President of Türkiye, allows tourists from these four countries to now spend 90 out of 180 days in Türkiye without a visa.

Additionally, Türkiye is also providing e-visa options to expats living in GCC countries. Eligible travellers can apply to the Türkiye e-visa system. Nationals of Algeria, Egypt, India, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines and Yemen holding a valid visa or valid residence permit from one of the Schengen countries, USA, UK or Ireland can apply for the e-visa.

The country’s national carrier Turkish Airlines has praised the move as one that would “bolster the ties between Türkiye and these countries”, and also “further strengthen the country’s tourist numbers from 2024.”

Ahmet Bolat, chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee at Turkish Airlines, said, “Türkiye is continuing to expand its international relations with the new presidential decree issued to exempt visas for nationals of UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Turkish Airlines supports the visa exemptions, making travel even easier through free layover services for our flyers. As the national flag carrier of Türkiye, we’re giving our passengers the opportunity to make memories they will never forget in beautiful Istanbul.”

Turkish Airlines orders 220 Airbus aircraft

Passengers flying with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul airport to anywhere of the world can discover Istanbul free of charge. Turkish Airlines’ transit passengers are eligible to unlock two destinations with one flight ticket, as the national flag carrier offers two layover services, a free hotel stay and free city tour, to explore the city of Istanbul when in transit.

Turkish Airlines’ passengers booking flights with 6-24 hours layover time can take advantage of Touristanbul – a complimentary city tour service allowing flyers explore Istanbul through eight different guided tours.

Alternatively, passengers booking flights with at least 20 hours layover time in Istanbul airport can get a chance to explore the city with the ‘Stopover in Istanbul’ layover service independently and at their own pace – with complimentary accommodation at partner hotels.

Turkish Airlines orders 220 Airbus aircraft

In 2023, the total number of passengers carried by Turkish Airlines increased by 16.1 per cent to 83.4 million compared to the same period of 2022. As of the end of December 2023, the airline had 440 aircraft in its fleet.

(Image: Supplied by Turkish Airlines)