Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, have returned to Turkey and Istanbul, marking the latest travel brands to resume offering products in the country. Pleasant Holidays President and CEO Jack E. Richards tells Travel Agent that the two brands had offered the destination briefly before and are returning now that visas are once again available to U.S. travelers.
“Our market is U.S. travelers, so visa availability is key,” Richards said. “Also based on the popularity and strength of Europe vacation sales, we continue to look for growth in that portfolio.”
Bookings on the new Turkey and Istanbul products are now open, with vacation options including roundtrip flights, VIP arrival and departure service, airport transfers, hotel accommodations, private tours and activities, travel protection coverage, and more. The Pleasant Holidays and Journese Turkey portfolio also includes eight hotels in Istanbul, offering real-time rates, under the Conrad, DoubleTree, Hilton, Hyatt and St. Regis brands. Flights are available on all major airlines, including Turkish Airlines, in all classes of service from departure cities nationwide. Travel agents can also book commissionable tours in advance, with both full- and half-day options available. Notable attractions featured include St. Sophie (Church of Divine Wisdom), Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and more.
Visa services between the United States and Turkey had been suspended in 2017 following a diplomatic dispute stemming from the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee. Full visa services did not resume until December of that year.
Even before the visa dispute, many travel brands, including a number of major cruise lines, had cancelled calls to Istanbul and the rest of Turkey over safety concerns following a series of terrorist attacks and a failed coup attempt. This past month Celestyal Cruises announced plans to return to the destination for the first time since then, calling in Istanbul in 2019 as part of its new seven-day Eclectic Aegean itinerary.