Turkey has long been a popular tourist destination, welcoming over 40 million visitors last year alone. Notably popular with Germans, Russians and Brits, Turkey offers almost guaranteed Mediterranean sunshine but without the excessive costs of resorts in competing countries.
Culturally Turkey is also a very interesting destination, represented the junction between the largely Christian west and the Muslim east. Indeed, Istanbul is the only capital city located on two different continents; Europe and Asia.
Now, though, the honeymoon period for Turkish tourism could be drawing to a close thanks to potential terrorist activity.
On July 27th threats were made by Islamic State (ISIS) which could scupper many people’s plans for some summer sunshine this year. The threats are considered serious enough for the Foreign Office to offer official guidance about travel to this beautiful country.
ISIS is known to operate in next-door Syria, and concerns are growing that terrorist activity could spill over the border into Turkey in coming months. In addition a number of attacks have occurred in Istanbul this year causing further concern for tourist safety.
The foreign office now states that there is a “high threat from terrorism”.
As a result visitors to the country are being advised to avoid public transport wherever possible. Buses and trains are considered high risk locations – especially around Istanbul. Travellers are advised to avoid “the metro stations at Yenikapi, Taksim, Osmanbey and Hacioman” for example.
The Foreign Office also recommends against anything but essential travel within 10km of the border with Syria where attacks have occurred regularly, and to avoid any public demonstrations as fighting is not uncommon.
Such a serious threat in prime tourism season is likely to have a considerable effect on the number of visitors Turkey enjoys. A survey by the Express newspaper suggests that two thirds of Brits have been put off visiting the country thanks to the current risks involved. The study of 37,000 people found that only 35% of Brits would now consider visiting Turkey for a holiday.
Of course the news on Turkey changes constantly. Tourists with trips already booked are advised to seek further clarification from the Foreign Office and their holiday provider on the threat levels in your chosen location.
At present the Foreign Office is strongly encouraging potential visitors to “be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.”
If and when the government gains control of the situation – which it is working hard to achieve – there may be bargains to be had in Turkey due to the falling demand for package holidays to the country.
The latest news may be found on the Foreign Office website at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/safety-and-security