Judge and Jury: A lack of direct action may see the sun set on Turkish tourism - The Turkish government needs to take drastic action if it wants to convince tourists that it is still a safe destination, says Bronwyn Gold Blyth, managing director BGB Assoc

Tourism is a fickle industry, as the Turkish tourism industry is discovering.

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 1980s.

The official response to date has been ’we have taken precautions’,

although we understand that they were meeting last weekend to discuss

their strategy.

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

Turkey’s uncertainty.

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