hen a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck parts of the country and Syria almost six weeks ago, our first thoughts went to the victims of an unimaginable humanitarian disaster.
More than 50,000 people have lost their lives. A daunting recovery has begun, and the political fallout over preparedness and the emergency response continues.
But it won’t have taken long for people with holidays booked to Turkey to wonder about their safety. Or for potential bookers to hesitate.
That’s entirely natural. It happened in the days following the 2021 volcanic eruption on La Palma in the Canary Islands, and the Japanese tsunami and earthquake of 2011. It happens regularly when hurricanes hammer parts of the southern US.
What’s interesting in this case, however, is that although Irish bookings to Turkey did slow initially, tour operators like Blue Sea Holidays, Cassidy Travel, clickandgo.com and Sunway say they soon snapped back.
“Click&Go paused marketing activity for holidays to Turkey as it was not appropriate to be advertising holidays at the same time as Turkey and Syria were headline news following the earthquake,” says its CEO, Paul Hackett.
Bookings dipped, he says, but are now back to normal. Sunway is similar, reporting “no actual cancellations”.
“Both earthquakes struck several hundred miles from main tourist areas such as Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman, with airlines and accommodation providers in these areas continuing to operate as normal,” says commercial director of loveholidays.ie Clem Walshe.
Turkey has become a popular destination for Irish sunseekers, with good value in resorts like Bodrum and Kusadasi.
It’s not as well-known as hotspots like the Canaries or Algarve, and the increasingly autocratic style of President Erdoğan, plus the fact that it lies outside of the EU, may put some travellers off. But direct flights are growing, Istanbul is an astonishing city break, and Hackett says his sun holiday bookings are already about 25pc ahead of 2022.
Tourism is hugely vulnerable to disasters. Holidays are trivial compared to the human impact of war, natural and weather catastrophes, but it’s also true that they can play a part in recovery. Think of communities rebuilding after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, or New York’s call for visitors to return after 9/11.
In Ukraine, where Russia’s war continues, international tourism is impossible. However, domestic travel to parts of the country is not, and tourism is being encouraged as a way to help the economy. If and when the war ends, I’m sure we’ll see that play out internationally, too — a call for visitors to a broken nation.
Today, the Department of Foreign Affairs (dfa.ie/travel) advises Irish citizens to exercise a “high degree of caution” in Turkey, and to avoid areas affected by the earthquake.
In the sun resorts, however, it’s business as usual.
Disasters sadly happen. For holidaymakers, my advice is to check DFA travel advice, have solid travel insurance in place weeks ahead of your trip, and think about booking with a travel agent, who can help change arrangements in case of emergencies.
Remember too, that for Turkey, passports must be valid for at least six months after your arrival date.
Five Turkey travel deals
Sunway has seven-night packages to Kusadasi, with accommodation at the four-star Golden Day Wings Hotel, from €329pp departing April 12. Prices are from €549pp in June, or €749pp in July, and include flights, transfers and 30kg checked bags. sunway.ie
LoveHolidays.ie has seven-night packages to Bodrum, staying at the five-star Diamond of Bodrum, from €596pp all-inclusive departing May 3. loveholidays.ie
ClickAndGo.com’s top-selling property is the four-star Palmin Hotel in Kusadasi, it says. Prices for seven-night all-inclusive packages (including drinks) in April start from €489pp, and in June from €759pp. Flights are with Aer Lingus. clickandgo.com
Blue Sea Holidays has seven-night, all-inclusive packages to the five-star Le Bleu Hotel & Resort in Kusadasi from €749pp on various dates in April. Call 01 539-8437 to book.
Cassidy Travel has seven-night packages in June from €775pp all-inclusive, with accommodation at the Marbel Hotel by Palm Wings in Kusadasi. cassidytravel.ie
NB: All prices based on two sharing, and subject to availability and change.