If, like us, you regularly scan newspapers, magazines and websites for travel deals, you’ll have seen some unbelievable Winter Sun specials for Turkish resorts. Some are on offer for less than £400 per week – half of what you’d pay for a similar resort in Spain or Portugal – but of course the big question on everyone’s mind is: “What about safety?”
Getting the facts straight
As we’ve explained before, a lot of safety-related incidents in places like Turkey and Egypt simply don’t make it into major newspapers – not because they’re trying to hide anything, but probably because these are a regular occurrence and aren’t considered ‘newsworthy’.
We told you a while ago that 2017 had seen +-7 attacks per month. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) lists major attacks from 2016/17, including the following:
- On 1 January 2017, there was an attack on the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, Istanbul; 39 people were killed and 69 injured.
- On 10 December 2016, a car bomb exploded near the Besiktas football stadium in the Macka/Dolmabahce area of Istanbul. 44 people, mostly police officers, were killed, and over 150 injured.
- On 28 June 2016, Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul was attacked. More than 40 people were killed.
Many of the other attacks listed were aimed at government, military and police targets, but in some cases civilians were also injured or killed. We wouldn’t say you should avoid soldiers or police, but we also wouldn’t sit down for lunch right next to a large group of officers…
One way to improve safety is to look out for security when visiting attractions, and rather opt for the ones that do have bag checks or metal detectors.
Cities vs. resorts
A BT travel feature recently quoted a TravelSupermarket travel expert as saying that the first few weeks of 2018 had seen an increase in searches for Turkish resorts, and that these resorts had not been affected by terrorism: “It’s vital to stress that the coastal resorts along the Med, where the vast majority of the 2.5 million Brits who visit the country each year travel to, are unaffected by (the 2016 airport attack) and many miles away from the cities. Brits are still booking great value holidays to the popular Mediterranean coastline, famous for its stunning scenery, warm blue seas, friendly welcome and historical sights.”
While it’s true that Turkish resorts have not been an issue, we think it’s important to consider that nobody can predict whether this will continue to be the case. Resorts have been targeted in Egypt and Tunisia, for example.
Also remember that you’ll need to get to that resort somehow, and that’s often through one of the main airports.
There are ways to improve airport safety, such as minimising time in public areas and preparing for security checks to speed up the process, but we hope you’re already doing that, wherever you go!
What do the experts say?
Most quote the FCO, and they consider the threat of terrorism to be high.
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey. A number of terrorist groups are active. Since 2015 there has been an increase in PKK (Kurdish separatist) terrorist activity in south-east Turkey. There have been a number of attacks by other groups including suicide attacks by Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), attacks by the far left DHKP(C) and the Kurdish separatist group TAK, including in cities such as Ankara and Istanbul. Terrorist groups, including Daesh and the TAK, have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites in Turkey.
Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.
There is a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports.
Be vigilant around significant religious occasions (including the holy month of Ramadan) and public holidays; terrorist groups sometimes call for attacks around these times.”
It’s also important to note that although security measures which restrict electronic devices on-board planes have been lifted on flights departing from Tunisia and other countries to the UK, these measures remain in place for flights from Ataturk and Dalaman airports.
Other countries’ official advice pages also highlight the risk of terrorism. New Zealand’s Safe Travel website, for example, lists Ankara and Istanbul as high-risk areas and advises against non-essential travel to these cities. “New Zealanders transiting Ankara or Istanbul on their way to other destinations in Turkey are advised to minimise their transit time in Ankara or Istanbul and avoid tourist sites in these two cities.”
To go or not to go?
Ultimately this is your decision, and yours alone. Turkey is still the no. 1 destination for travellers who purchase Safe Journey and we believe it gives them far greater peace of mind to have travel insurance that covers terrorism comprehensively, just in case.
We do know that we’re more likely to be affected indirectly by an act of terrorism (as opposed to being affected directly) so topping up with the ability to cancel* or claim for delays, lost property and other terrorism-related losses can take a lot of pressure off anyone’s shoulders.
Wherever you choose to go, make sure you’re fully informed and prepared.
*Safe Journey covers cancellation if there’s an act of terrorism anywhere within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks before your departure. For full details of this and other cover, please read our Policy Wording.