Operators: Protests happening far from tourism hotspots
Heads of tourism in Turkey admit that holidaymakers are cancelling visits to the country as the protests there continue. The clashes in Istanbul’s Taksim Square have spread to more than 60 cities and towns throughout the country over the last week.
Basaran Ulusoy, president of Turkey’s travel agencies’ association, TURSAB, told Turkish media that the protests were having an impact on visitor numbers and that there had been cancellations.
“But we will overcome this together,” he added. “I spoke with tourism minister, Omer Çelik, who explained the situation to his counterparts. We are all trying to decrease the effects of the damage to Turkey’s image.”
Ulusoy said it was important not to destroy the progress that Turkey has made in its tourism sector since the 1990s. “We don’t want to lose that in one day. The protesters should act carefully and stay away from provocations. We should not give power to our competitors in global markets.”
The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism assured in a statement: “There are currently no problems being experienced with either transport or security in Istanbul or any of our tourism regions and thus every sort of touristic activity is carrying on as normal. Flights in and out of Turkey have not been affected by these events and are running as scheduled.”
Tour operators such as Thomas Cook and Tui say the protests are happening far from tourism hotspots.
Akin Koc, managing director of Anatolian Sky Holidays, said that tourists in Istanbul were also safe. “The focus of the protests is in and around Taksim Square, which is located on the commercial side of Istanbul around 30 minutes drive from the old city and the major tourist attractions such as the Sultanahmet [Blue] Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar,” he said.
[photo courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide]