Tourism is a fickle industry, as the Turkish tourism industry is
By that I mean tourists are fickle. And why shouldn’t they be? There are
an enormous number of destinations to choose from. What they want is a
rest or at least an escape from the pressures of every day life. And,
even to the most adventurous of tourists, risking your life is generally
not on the holiday agenda.
However, fickle tourists are a problem for all countries, particularly
when tourism is a major contributor to GDP. The alternative to tourism
may be to go cap in hand to the World Bank, or other donors, which does
nothing for the population’s pride and brings debt and beholding.
Over the last few weeks we have seen Uganda and the Yemen suffer, in the
short term at least, the loss of their tourism business due to terrorist
activities. The Foreign Office’s travel advice for these countries is
quite clear - don’t travel.
And now it is Turkey’s turn. The Kurdish rebel army, the PKK has
threatened tourists before. It didn’t help its cause among would-be
international friends. Following the incidents over the last few weeks
the Foreign Office is offering cautionary advice to the main tourist
destinations in Turkey.
Some tour operators have suspended travel to Istanbul, some have
The response from British tour operators to headlines such as ’Turkey
hols bomb alert’ (Mirror, 3 March) has been to wait and see and to
highlight the fact that the PKK has been issuing similar threats since
The official response to date has been ’we have taken precautions’,
although we understand that they were meeting last weekend to discuss
It cannot keep quiet for long. If the PKK fails to see the folly in its
strategy, Turkey will have to demonstrate to the travelling public, just
as Egypt did, and Uganda is doing that they have taken the appropriate
steps to improve security and safeguard their visitors.
Turkey is a late booking destination so it still has some time on its
side. But, if the economy is to benefit from the one million holiday
makers it hopes to receive from the UK, it needs to have crisis
communication plans in place and a promotional plan ready to roll out.
There is no doubt that other destinations are already benefiting from