“We miss Israeli tourists in Antalya and Istanbul” That’s what Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ozgur Ozaslan, said in a weekend conversation with Israel’s ambassador to Serbia, Yossi Levy.
The conversation took place during the opening of Serbia’s 24th tourism fair, a colorful fair in which 46 countries took part, and which featured more than a thousand exhibitions. Three countries opened a pavilion in the fair for the first time: Germany, the Czech Republic and Israel. Israel’s pavilion was run by Yehuda Shen, representative of Israel’s Tourism Ministry. The guest of honor at the fair was Turkey, since Turkey holds the first place in Serbia’s export tourism.
A promotional video of Turkey was screened at the convention to several hundred high-level officials and diplomats (The Greek ambassador did not look pleased!). Nearby a local Serbian dance troupe performed Ottoman dances on a stage, showing everyone who is the real tourism boss in this part of the world. During the fair, the Israeli ambassador met Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ozgur Ozaslan.
Ozaslan expressed hope that Israel and Turkey would return to cooperate in all areas. “I hope that masses of Israeli tourists will return to Turkey. My people miss them,” said the Turkish official.
The Israeli ambassador Yossi Levy answered, as was fitting, that we all hope that Israel and Turkey will resume normal, positive relations once again. “I assume that Israeli tourism to Turkey will thrive once again, when the Israeli tourist will feel that he is welcome and desirable in Turkey. Unfortunately, that is not the situation today.”
The Turkish deputy minister answered, “I am sure that everything will be okay.” He shook Levy’s hand warmly and reminded him that Turkey’s Ministry of Tourism participated in Tel Aviv’s large tourism fair.
“We’ll see you in Turkey,” said the Turk to the Israeli ambassador as he left.