Is Turkey safe for tourists?
Turkey has fallen victim to a number of high-profile terror attacks and political events in the last couple of years, including a failed coup on July 15-16, 2016. The situation is now calmer, but there is currently still a state of emergency in place.
The FCO has advised that security operations are ongoing throughout the country, and that the threat from terrorism remains high – although bear in mind that the threat level for the UK itself is currently at ‘severe’ level.
If you are in Turkey or planning a holiday there soon, stay abreast of local news and follow the advice of local authorities. Travellers are also advised to carry a copy of their passport and e-visa at all times during the state of emergency.
Is it safe to go to Turkey?
Despite this unrest and a series of atrocities carried out in Istanbul and Ankara, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not changed its stance on Turkey, and the vast majority of the country remains safe in the eyes of the British government, including the popular coastal resorts where the majority of tourists go on holiday.
The coastal resorts along the Mediterranean, such as Bodrum, Antalya and Fethiye, have been almost entirely unaffected and are many miles away both from the larger cities of Istanbul and capital Ankara in the north, as well as the dangerous areas along the border with Syria and Iraq in the east. The FCO does advise against travel to some areas along the Turkey’s border with Iraq and Syria, but these warnings are nothing new and have been in place for years.
It’s important to stress that in Turkey’s coastal resorts along the Med, it is business as usual with tourism continuing on as it always has. What’s more, British nationals made around 1.7 million visits to Turkey in 2016, and the vast majority of these trips were completely trouble-free.
If you are planning a holiday to Turkey, please check current FCO advice before travelling. The FCO also recently added additional airline security checks for flights direct from Turkey to the UK, and as a result, laptops, tablets and large phones not allowed in the cabin during flights – make sure you understand the rules before you travel.
What happens if there is an incident while I’m on holiday in Turkey?
Many Brits are still looking to book holidays to Turkey’s popular Mediterranean coastline, famous for its stunning scenery, warm blue seas, friendly welcome and historical sights.
However, if you are concerned about booking a holiday to Turkey, you should book an ATOL-backed package to protect yourself should the situation change and the safety of tourists become a concern.
Although most of Turkey is currently considered safe to visit, if this were to happen the FCO would change its advice to warn against all travel which triggers a well-rehearsed plan to remove holidaymakers from the country and to stop new holidays starting until things calm down. ATOL-backed breaks offer protection against situations such as this and you would get a full refund if your holiday was cancelled or compensation if it was cut short.
If you plan to book a DIY break consisting of separate flights and accommodation, bear in mind that you are then reliant on the airline and hotel policies for cancellations, which may well leave you out of pocket. So, be aware of this if you’re planning to take the non-package option.
What if I already have a holiday booked to Turkey?
However, make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy to cover you - make sure you read the small print very carefully!
I want to cancel my Turkey holiday – what are my rights?
Currently, if you choose not to travel, you are liable for normal cancellation charges which could be as much as 100% of your holiday cost – check with your tour operator, travel agent or airline/accommodation supplier for accurate costs. You will not be able to claim any loss back from an insurer if you choose not to travel.
If the FCO did change its advice and warned against all travel to the country, then, of course, you would be able to cancel all ATOL-backed holidays affected, while some airlines would look to offer free cancellations or transfer passengers to new dates or destinations.
Are many people still travelling to Turkey?
Visitor numbers have certainly been hit as a result of recent events, but tourists are still travelling to Turkey in their millions.
Any other advice?
Keep an eye on the news and, closer to your departure date, talk to your travel provider for their latest advice. Additionally, leave organising your holiday money until closer to when you plan to travel to avoid any unnecessary exchange losses if you are unable to go.
Remember that tourism is huge for Turkey’s economy and many people in the country depend on it to make a living. It’s fair to say that the security of tourists and the country’s ability welcome holiday makers safely will be high up on the Turkish government’s list of priorities.
Please note: This is an updated version of a previously-published article. All facts were correct at the time of the most recent update (October 2, 2017).
Source: Travel Supermarket