Many countries, really many countries are affected by terrorism – some obviously more than others. Some more or less directly. Just say France, Germany, England, Belgium, etc. (if we only have to concentrate in the nearest countries in Europe). 50 countries are classified as high-risk countries. Most of them are in Europe or are countries, where we regularly know someone traveling to – or even would like to travel to ourselves (just say United States, Australia, Thailand, etc., etc.). But are we afraid in these countries / let us hold back / avoid traveling there ?? No, not really? For there hasn’t been a notable decline in tourism compared to Turkey, even though Germany has hosted four attacks, two in France, one in Belgium.
Decrease in number of tourists:
In fact, one can say, that Turkey has experienced a massive decrease in the number of tourists visiting the country. Aprox. 40% in 2016! This corresponds roughly to a loss of 15 billion dollars! The Russian tourists represent the largest decline. From 3.5 million travelers in 2015 to exactly 766,871 in 2016. Crisis ?? Yes, definitely. And what is the consequence for the local population, infrastructure and economy? One thing is probably sure. Turkey will probably again this year experience a more or less serious decline in tourism – as we have witnessed the last 3-4 years.
But how can this be? Why are there this massive drop in Turkey and not as much in other countries? Maybe some of the reason might be a thought of insecurity, because it’s a Muslim country, and that one therefore might be a little more nervous than in ex. France. You never know, what “they” can do. But if that is the case, it is not quite fair, because in the Muslim world, Turkey will hardly be taken into account – for the simple reason, that they are not considered Islamic enough. Not many in Turkey slavishly follows the Koran, prayes 5 times a day, avoid alcohol – can you say Raki (Turkish brandy flavored with anise – very similar to the Greek ouzo) or avoid eating during the month of Ramadan. But Muslim yes – many of the turks will say so. Is it us then, who are a bit ignorant or judicial or is it other factors, like eg. a pretty big language barrier (depending on where you visit?)? Maybe…
Insecurity as a condition to travel?
Perhaps one can only conclude, that terror and unsecurity follows us everywhere. It has been a condition to act, react and travel the world. Like the possibility or risk of contracting a gastrointestinal infection, that missing a plane, a suitcase or something. NOT that it should be treated, compared or accepted on equal footing – not in any way. But there are risks of getting your fingers up the pocket – about taking off and travel. And it may just teach us to exercise caution – to think and just not let ourselves be scared. With common sense and vigilance will get you far – also in Turkey. Apparently I’m not the only one with this opinion, if you read this article.
But you have to give the Turks one thing – they do not give up and will not be beaten to the ground. Even after 22 terrorist episodes and a failed military coup in 2016, there is no sign, that they are about to lie down and give up. Rather contrary in fact. And it will undoubtly take an extra-ordinary effort to get the tourists back and get them feel safe on their journey. So here is a huge task, which the Turks must take seriously.
What caused the turmoil?
Often it causes extra anxiety, if you have neighbors, who are at war (whether it is civil war or war against another country). And with neighbors like Iraq and Syria, Turkey definitely hasn’t got an east task. Even more when they are active in the fight against the conflicts and even want to stand as a powerful nation. One has to expect a certain amount of retaliatory attacks, when you’re actively trying to fight ISIS. And it’s has certainly happened.
A certain turkish gentleman does not make it necessarily easier for his people (and tourism as a whole) by his actions and his rhetoric. This is probably also where the biggest criticism, voiced by intellectuals in the country and from many (potential) visitors / tourists, lies. They are not comfortable with, what is going on inside the country. For many European nations, it is very incomprehensible, that there are so many arrests, that the free press is compromised, and that there is a persistent state of emergency in the country, where most laws are put out. What is the motive for that to persist ??
What should they do?
Perhaps that is precisely why the more important, that the Turks also shows another side of their country, emerges as a peace-loving nation with a genuine desire for peace in Europe and a genuine democracy in their own country. And focusing on their tourists (which the also are trying to through improvement of infrastructure, increased holiday campaigns etc). After all, a large part of the country income lies here.
Turkey has so very much to offer. As much as no other country has. Here you get equal parts of culture and history mixed with relaxation, adventure and beauty. And to a degree that few other countries can follow. The hospitality is a whole chapter itself (and here I refer not to the incredible “hospitality” which various vendors exhibit, when they invite you to “visit” their restaurant or store). I think of the real thing, where people have the courage and desire to talk with those, who come to their country, inviting them in, will give you what they have -if you say that you like it, and will be happy to discuss everything from cooking to politics and, above all, will show you what is Turkish in their eyes. It is a unique experience and hospitality, that are valid for the whole country. Turks are proud of their beautiful country and this is what you also have to be aware of.
It is after all an absolute minority, who experience problems on their vacation. Even those who were on vacation during the military coup, did not experience directly uncomfortable similarities, other than yelling in the street and an advice not to seek public places with big gatherings. You also have to consider the size of the country, compared to how many millions of tourists, who travels to Turkey every year, and how few incidents of assault, disorder or even terrorist attacks on tourists, it is vanishingly little compared to, what the press and the skeptics potentially make take it to (there has never been a terrorist attack or anything like it in Antalya city or some of the other major tourist cities like Alanya, Marmaris and Bodrum).
So what do I want to achieve with this ….? Well … call for headedness I think. With a desire not to opt out of the country, because one are unsure. In reality there is only a limited reason to be insecure. And above all, the risk is equivalent many other European countries, that most people, after all, not really deselect.
This is a glimpse of my own thoughts and considerations, and does not give an adequate picture of the situation in Turkey nor my full opinion.