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Turkey's tourism minister faces calls to resign over 'insulting' video

Social media users likened the face masks to branding cattle
Social media users likened the face masks to branding cattle   -   Copyright  Go Turkiye

Turkey's tourism minister is facing calls to resign after releasing an official video. It promotes Turkey as a "safe haven" for holidays. But Turks said the use of "Enjoy, I'm vaccinated" masks in the video was like branding cattle, and said the advertisement suggested Turks were subservient to foreigners.

"Sanitised resorts and vaccinated staff," the video goes on to say, as masked waiters serve unmasked visitors. "We call it double safety for tourism. Our guests call it peace of mind."

Turkey has prioritised vaccinating tourism workers as part of a push to "vaccinate all people tourists may see by the end of May." This approach has been criticised as only 13% of the Turkish population have received both doses of China's Sinovac or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

This drive to promote tourism is the government's bid to begin economic recovery during the downturn, especially as the Turkish lira continues to lose value.

Many Turks said they found the promotion insulting and a hashtag calling for the tourism minister's resignation began trending.

The video was released on Thursday by the government-linked Go Turkiye travel guide but has since been removed from all platforms.

Turkey is in its final days of a strict lockdown, during which businesses have been closed and a 'stay at home' order has been in place. Foreign tourists and some workers are exempt from the restrictions.

In April, coronavirus infections hit highs of 62,000 a day. Restrictions have since lowered this to around 11,500.

From 17 May, Turkey will no longer require visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test when arriving from countries including Latvia, Luxembourg, Ukraine, Estonia and the UK.

Also on the list are Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Israel and Japan.

Anyone arriving from India, Brazil or South Africa will be required to undergo quarantine.