, le média spécialiste du tourisme francophone

Turkey: the attack in Ankara will have “no long term effect” on tourism

Taking stock of the situation with experts on the destination

The double terrorist attack in Ankara committed on Saturday, October 10th, 2015, while it did not take place in a touristic zone and killed no travelers, could have consequences on tourism in the country. An event that tour-operators and DMCs would have gladly avoided after already suffering from a difficult year in 2015. But globally, they remain optimistic.

Rédigé par Pierre Coronas translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 14 Octobre 2015

Turkish authorities did not wait for the Ankara attack to secure the main touristic sites of Istanbul, such as the Topkapi Palace - Photo : Jan Schuler -
Turkish authorities did not wait for the Ankara attack to secure the main touristic sites of Istanbul, such as the Topkapi Palace - Photo : Jan Schuler -
In 2015, tourism is suffering in Turkey. While the country remains the 6th most visited destination in the world, the number of arrivals from abroad has experienced a strong decrease this year.

On the 2015 summer season, from May to August, the Seto (Union of tour-operating companies) reports a 36% drop on the sale of holiday packages (88,072) by French tour-operators.

This is the second strongest drop for this period, behind Tunisia (-55%) and before Morocco (-30%.)

And the Turkish situation should not get any better by the end of the year following the double attack that killed at least 97 people and injured 507 on Saturday October 10th, 2015, in the capital Ankara.

Little cancellations, but no more reservations

“This is the icing on the cake…” regrets Fikret Atalay, President of Koptur, a DMC whose Turkey Vision branch operates on the French market since 2010.

He expects to record “almost zero reservations” for the 2015/2016 winter, a season that normally generates 15% of the agency’s annual turnover.

Mumtaz Teker, President and Founder of Pacha Tour, also expects “a reaction from the market” after the Ankara attack. “Less people will want to come immediately, that’s for sure. But it is a question of time,” he nuances.

He foresees a slowing down, if not a complete stop, of reservations. But not necessarily cancellations.

A point of view shared by Selatt Erdogan, Sales Director of Mondial Tourisme, Tour-Operator and DMC specialized on Turkey, a former branch of Marmara.

“Whether directly or indirectly, every terrorist attack has consequences on tourism. But I think these are immediate effects, not long term, because the attack in Ankara was not targeting tourists,” he believes.

Something that is materializing for now, because he is processing zero cancellations on Bodrum where Mondial Tourisme is sending two groups to travel there in the coming days.

Furthermore, the operator had another group of 62 people visiting Istanbul at the time of the attack. They went to back France on Sunday, October 11th, 2015, as planned, and “were not worried at all,” ensures Selatt Erdogan.

Likewise at Marmara, where we are told that there is no wave of cancellations in Turkey, for the time being.

Attacks are never aimed at tourists in Turkey

All the specialists on the destination repeat it: terrorism does not aim at tourists in Turkey. In fact, they never were the target of an attack in the country.

Yet, in the update of its Advice to Travelers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not advice against visiting the destination but asks French travelers in Turkey to exercise caution, even in touristic zones.

Something that is not necessary, according to Fikret Atalay from Koptur: “everything currently going on in Turkey doesn’t involve tourists. The attacks are specifically targeted and there is no risk for travelers.”

According to him, the fears of French tourists result mainly from the media coverage of the events.

“Only the border zones with Syria, in the east, are dangerous in Turkey, but they have been advised against by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a long time,” adds Mumtaz Teker.

However, Selatt Erdogan, while specifying that Saturday’s attack in Ankara had a political implication, believes that calling for caution, even in touristic zones, isn’t useless.

“To this day, no place in the world is safe from terrorist attacks. So, even if no attacks were aimed at travelers in Turkey, to this day, one must remain cautious in touristic zones,” he explains.

In fact, he reminds that in Istanbul, scans and metals detectors are in place in the major touristic sites such as the Saint-Sophia Basilica, the Grand Bazaar, or the Topkapi Palace. And this has been the case for around ten years.

On its end, the SETO published an alert on Turkey via its portal SIS (Security Information Service.) The organization announces that, just like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it does not advise against traveling to the country.

Still, the SETO recommends its members programming the destination “to follow very closely the evolution of the situation, in close cooperation with local incoming agencies, and to take, if need be, operational provisions for stays, tours, and/or excursions.”

G20 Summit in Antalya from November 15 and 16, 2015

Tour-operators and DMCs who sell trips to Turkey remain optimistic.

“In 2015, we are recording a 30% decrease on the destination with departures from France, after a wonderful 2014 year. We hope to at least stabilize our sales in 2016,” announces the Sales Director of Mondial Tourisme.

“If the political and security situation remain calm in Turkey until the start of next season, in April 2016, then things should look up,” adds Mumtaz Teker from Pacha Tours.

Selatt Erdogan of Mondial Tourisme also has faith. And he is counting on French travel agents: “do not give up!”

In fact, he released a statement to all his partner agencies, on Monday October 12, 2015, to explain to them that Mondial Tourisme is keeping its operations on all the Turkish beach resorts and in Istanbul.

And the group is following its words with actions since it will open 4 new accredited clubs on 4 Turkish destinations right in 2016.

Between now and then, Turkey will make headlines throughout the world since it is hosting the next G20 summit on November 15 and 16, 2015, in Antalya. All tourism professionals involved hope that this meeting will unfold smoothly and will help in promoting the destination.

The French President, François Hollande, will participate accompanied by other major world leaders like Barack Obama, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Poutine, amongst others.

In fact, he has already planned to stay in one of the establishments marketed by Mondial Tourisme, in its high-end collection in Antalya.

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Tags : attacks, Turkey

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