Türkiye stays open for tourists despite earthquake tragedy

Türkiye is one of the most visited countries in the world, attracting travellers from across the globe, thanks to its historical and cultural sites.

The country is going through a difficult time following the devastating earthquakes that struck the southeast, but it’s trying to ensure that tourism, crucial also in this context, keeps on as usual.

A vital role in the national economy

The tourism sector plays an important part in the country’s economy, a part that grows every year.

According to the latest figures published by the Turkish government, the country welcomed more than 51 million tourists in 2022, a sharp increase of 71%.

This is reflected directly in revenues: $46 billion  – 53% more than in 2021 – a record that blows past the previous high: $38.9 billion in 2019.

Although tourism is not the only sector supporting the Turkish economy, it certainly has an important role.

Tourist hotspots untouched by earthquake

After the earthquake, holidaymakers started wondering whether it was safe to travel to Türkiye.

But we’re speaking about quite a large country of almost 800,000 km² and the leading tourism destinations – such as İstanbul, Antalya, Muğla, İzmir, Cappadocia and Konya – are situated well outside the areas struck by the quake.

Istanbul, a 1000 kilometres drive from the epicentre, hasn’t stopped. The city on the Bosphorus strait, which alone welcomed some 16 million foreign tourists last year, continues with “business as usual”.

Visitors maintain bookings

And those who have already reserved their trip here before the earthquake are maintaining their reservations.

The last thing we need now is for people to not come to Turkey. More than ever, you need to come!

Debbie Still

British holidaymaker

That’s the case, for instance, of Marian Catalan, a Spanish tourist we met in Istanbul.

“Yes, I was a bit hesitant,” she says. “But since we had already organized everything, we said ‘Well, since it’s 1000 kilometres away…’ We thought that nothing would happen here. It’s a safe country that I would come back to. We liked it a lot.”

There were similar thoughts from a British holidaymaker, Debbie Still, who maintained her trip, despite everything.

“We haven’t been here 24 hours, but we love it so far, fantastic,” she says. “And the Turkish people are lovely, very friendly. The last thing we need now is for people to not come to Turkey. More than ever, you need to come!”

Airlines operate as normal

Travelling in Türkiye – as long as it is not in the areas affected by the terrible earthquake – is safe.

The main airlines and international airports are operating as normal,  experts like Laurent Abitbol, President of Havas Voyages and Selectour, confirm.

“There have been no cancellations,” he tells us. “It is important to know that the earthquake is 1000km from the tourist points of Turkey. There is no drop in bookings. Every day we have hundreds of customers who register to go to Turkey. It is very important to continue travelling to Turkey.”

For 2023 tourism is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels and the country wants to continue on this path.


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