Opinion: Turkey is safer now for tourists than ever

Opinion: Turkey is safer now for tourists than ever

Akin Koc, managing director, Anatolian Sky Holidays

Every year around this time I take a regular trip Turkey to meet all our hoteliers and discuss contracting for the coming year.

These trips involve visits to all the resorts we feature, including Fethiye, Olu Deniz, Kalkan, Akyaka and Marmaris, along with the capital Istanbul too.

Prior to heading out to Turkey this time, I had heard some small, peaceful protests had taken place in some of the resorts in addition to the protests in Istanbul.

This had given me cause for concern. However, during my 10-day trip I saw no evidence of any demonstrations whatsoever.

I took the opportunity to meet holidaymakers and ask if they had seen any signs of unrest or had any worries.

Each one gave me the same answer ­ that they had not encountered any disturbances. All clients in the resorts were enjoying their holidays, relaxing around the hotel pools or on the beach in 35C heat and perfect sunshine.

In Istanbul the demonstrations were focused on Gezi Park and Taksim Square, which are both in the commercial area of the city and about four miles from the historic areas frequented by tourists.

Life in the old part of Istanbul has continued as normal.

Tourists have been enjoying sightseeing and bargaining in the Grand Bazaar and our representatives have been in close contact with visitors, ensuring they avoid these commercial areas.

The messages of the protestors have been heard and the president has urged the government and prime minister to take lessons from this experience and review their policies.

It is understandable that public anger can develop towards governments that appear to be pushing society into different ways of life.

But I am confident that Turkey cannot be so easily compared to its neighbours.

I have watched the events unfold with concern, of course. But as a Turk myself I do not believe  these recent protests represent any 'Turkish Spring'.

That took place in 1920 when the revolutionary leader Mustafa Kamal Ataturk put in place the democratic, secular republic.

If anything, tourists to Turkey can feel more secure travelling this year.

In the past, one of my concerns for tourism in Turkey had come from the Kurdistan Workers┬╣ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdistan for over 30 years.

The present government has recently managed to negotiate a peace treaty with the PKK. This is excellent news.

As a Turkish specialist I believe the positive, long-term results of this deal far outweigh any short-term
negative impact of the recent unrest.

I am confident that as the recent protests continue to die down the media will focus their attentions on other news stories.

In the meantime, tourists in Turkey can simply lie back and enjoy the sunshine.

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