If you could throw them into a suitcase, before the bikinis, sun cream, T-shirts and passports, security and safety are probably the first two elements that any family would pack to ensure a great holiday.
Those two are coming more and more into the thinking of holidaymakers looking for a bit of fun in the sun, and no more so, than in Turkey – a firm favourite over the years, but now being looked at with closer-than-usual scrutiny.
In short, is Turkey really safe to visit, or is it a case of weighing up the odds of vacationing in other favoured hotspots?
Perception of Turkey in the Media
For the large part, from daily news coverage, both on TV, in the written media and on social media forums, the perception is that Turkey is, indeed, in the middle of a crisis thanks in large part to the deteriorating civil war in neighbouring Syria.
The knock-on effect has been a flood of refugees heading into Turkey seeking a safer life, and safer passage onward to Europe.
International news coverage has focused on a small percentage of the millions of Syrians that are trying to get to Greece – the illegal backdoor entry to Europe – by any means possible, and that can mean a risky and sometimes fatal trip over the Aegean Sea.
Equally, what has increasingly unnerved potential tourists are recent bombings. These bombings have been blamed on nationalist elements or those supporting a Kurdish homeland in Syria.
Notably, the July attack in Suruc, close to the Turk/Syrian border; the October 10, 2015, attack in Ankara on a peace gathering claiming 102 lives and a car bomb attack again in Ankara targeting the Turkish military, have been targeted more towards the ongoing situation in Syria.
On January 12, ten German tourists were killed when an IS suicide bomber blew themselves up in Sultanahmet Square, in Istanbul. This was the first time foreign tourists had been targeted in such a way.
But What is Life in Turkey Really Like?
The reality – away from the bigger cities and often overlooked by the world’s media – is that the majority of Turkey continues as normal.
The coastal tourist hotspots from Izmir in the north, right down the west coast through Kusadasi, Didim, Bodrum, Marmaris, Datca, Marmaris, Fethiye, and on towards the tourist centres around Antalya, have not been affected in any way by the troubles afflicting the country.
Many Turks are going about their business as usual. Simply because they are, just like the holiday hotspots, unaffected by what they hear and see on their own media. The message from them is that life continues on.
There has been no impact on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. The history, the beautiful coastline, the beaches, the restaurants and bars, the eclectic lifestyles, and the Turks, remain untouched. So why is this?
Geography of Turkey and Syria
Well bringing things into perspective, the Syrian border from Bodrum is over 1,000 kilometres away. Bodrum to Istanbul and Ankara are equally more than eight hours drive away. In some cases, it takes a two-day bus trip to reach the Syrian border from other areas in Turkey.
Security and Confidence in the Country
The Turkish Government has always had a serious eye on tourism – it’s one of the key elements that underpin its economy. So every effort is made to make tourists feel at home wherever they are.
Security measures have been stepped up, intelligence is active, local police forces are aware of the fact that any attack on tourists is an attack on tourism, and an attack on the Turkish economy.
Further to that, Turkey is still trusted as a holiday spot given the millions that flow through its airports each day. The number of people visiting Turkey reached 37 million in 2014 and a total of 36.2 million foreigners visited the country in 2015. An average 2 million visitors in 2015 were from Britain.
If you’re considering booking a holiday, then continue as normal. It would be a good idea to have the backup of an ATOL-operator as if there is a change in the domestic situation in Turkey, then ATOL offers protection and refunds.
Safety in Turkey
Holidaymakers continue to flow into Turkey because their general approach is one of reality: nowhere is safe in the world, so why should it affect us?
In reality, they have looked at the options and decided it is a case of getting on with life. The key thing is that they rationalised that with all the advice and security and safety that they can take, their holiday is very much in the realms of fate. And that’s always been the case.
However, abiding safety tips, such as avoiding domestic protests, staying aware while in groups in crowded places, and staying on main roads rather than wondering off down a back alley are good ideas.
Need more Reassurance?
What is safety like in your homeland? You’ll probably be surprised to find that terror threats are extremely high. World terrorism is a fact of life, but it shouldn’t put you off from travelling, particularly to Turkey.
Foreign embassies, such as the British one, offers updated travel advice to Turkey. The British Embassy (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey) shows a map that reassuringly shows that three-quarters of Turkey are safe. As you head closer to the Syrian border, only then does advice change to against all travel.
The embassy states: “Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Most visits are trouble-free. The Turkish authorities have said that security has been tightened in response to the attack on tourists on 12 January 2016.
“Further attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners. Border crossings into Syria and nearby locations have also been targeted. Be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.”
“But for the grace of God go I…” is often cited by many. But taking relatively simple precautions, ensuring you are aware of the travel warnings on social media, your insurance is checked out and you accept that Turks are generally welcoming, then there is no reason why you can’t enjoy a safe and secure holiday on the coast.
Need to Know More About Turkey?
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