In a special report aired on BBC Radio 5 Live, journalist Nick Garnett interviewed the Mayor of Fethiye, Behcet Saatci, and spoke to tourists and business owners around the region. The report, part of a 3 hour long breakfast show, tackled the topics at the forefront of many tourists and locals minds, namely the threat of terrorism in Turkey in 2016 and the drop in tourist numbers as a result.
“Put the threat of terrorism in Turkey into perspective” urges Behcet Saatci.
Fethiye’s Mayor Behcet Saatci is well respected. He has tweaked and improved the idyllic coastal town of Fethiye no end over the past few years as he strives to make it a boutique city. Speaking to the BBC reporter via an English translator, he made the perfect spokesperson. In the interview he urged people to put the threat of terrorism in Turkey into perspective suggesting that Fethiye is the perfect place to live or take a holiday this year. When asked what message he had for British tourists concerned about coming to Turkey, Saatci said, “they should ask people who live on the Southwest coast of Turkey [what they think]. We have over 2000 English brothers and sisters now living with us [in Fethiye], I think they [should] answer the question.” He continued,“I believe anyone travelling to Turkey this year is special as they will be treated like they probably never expected before. [With] every hotel down on numbers, they have to [look after] their guests better so I believe this is the year to come [to Turkey] to experience a little bit more.”
“Terror attacks and problems have been going on all over the world” says Behcet Saatci.
During Nick Garnetts interview with Saatci, a number of good points were made;
The Mayor believes that people are turning their back on Turkey this year for, “obvious reasons…coming from the Middle East and areas bordering Turkey. There have been a lot of attacks there, a lot of fighting going on, but this is not a specific problem to Turkey only. These terror attacks and problems have been going on all over the world”.
Garnett mentioned he had spoken to tourists in resort that day that were worried about terrorism. Saatci commented, “We should not [look] at this as only Fethiye or Turkey. We should look at it from a different perspective which would be, if Italy, Spain, any country, Paris, Brussels, is as safe as they are, my country is safe as well. The British Ambassador came to visit me…to investigate the area…he was very pleased with the situation. If he [had] seen any danger, or anything negative, I am sure he would have remarked on it”.
“I don’t believe the British government is warning about travel to Turkey, they are probably warning their citizens about the dangers of the general world. It’s not only specific to Turkey. They are probably saying ‘please be careful on your travels’… [not just] a warning against travel to Turkey “. Said Behcet Saatci. (See Radio 5 Lives interview with Behcet Saatci here)
“Thousands of tourists are shunning Turkey” according to travel research company GFK
According to the BBC program, ‘exclusive’ statistics from a travel research company GFK suggests “thousands of tourists are shunning Turkey”. They say that tourist numbers are down by almost a third, this despite the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stating that “travelling to Turkey is generally safe, although the threat of terrorism remains high”.
A surprisingly positive report about Fethiye in the British tabloid The Sun last week put it nicely, “The number of Brits booking holidays to Turkey has nosedived following terrorist incidents in the far away capital of Ankara, but this gorgeous stretch of [Fethiye] coastline has never had a single incident.” Very true.
Turkey does have it’s problems, the majority of these are over 24 hours drive away from many of the coastal resorts like Fethiye, around the Syrian border. We should all be aware of the threat of terrorism. We shouldn’t put our lives on hold because of it, but should be cautious and use our common sense. It’s a good idea to avoid obvious potential targets like large public gatherings in cities and resorts in Turkey, but also in Spain, Italy, France, London and the world over. If we consider the FCO’s advice for those heading to either France or Spain, it states, “There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate” – very similar advice given to those travelling to Turkey. Even the MI5 website warns that “the current threat from international terrorism in the UK is SEVERE”.
Put Turkey’s terrorism threat into reality.
As Oceanwide Properties News said in their post ‘Is Turkey safe in 2016? Consider this…‘, “a terror threat does exist in Turkey, but it does everywhere…It’s an unfortunate reality that a threat from terrorist and extremist groups exists the world over as the attacks in Brussels proved”. The post made a good point…there have been bombs in London in the past, did that mean you cancelled your holiday to Cornwall or trip to Blackpool?. Turkey is a huge country, bigger than England and France put together. Staying away from the sleepy coastal resorts where the same warm welcoming smiles are waiting to greet you, simply doesn’t make sense. As the FCO and many advisory sites warn, terrorist attacks are often random and indiscriminate. Think about it. If a terrorist organisation is looking to target tourists, why would they simply think of Turkey? Surely the popular resorts in Spain and Portugal, where the GFK reports around a 30% increase in bookings, are as much, if not more so, at risk.
“Life is still as people would expect in a tourist resort” believes Hisaronu Hotelier.
According to the BBC’s interview with Halit Sertan Sarac (Sonny), a hotelier here in Hisaronu, his hotel is “actually busier this year than the year before” but admits he is lucky, this may not be the case for everyone. Sonny believes it is not simply the pockets of the business owners that are being hit by the drop in tourism but, “everyone from the families of the workers to the people supplying the vegetables, food and materials”. As he is interviewed he is walking through a largely deserted Hisaronu High Street where just a few tourists can be seen browsing the shops. Although early season, we would normally see the street far busier. Sonny remains positive saying, “the situation will change in the future, when people realise we’re not in danger at all..any more than any other place in Europe”. There may be a drop in tourism but “life is still as people would expect in a tourist resort”. (View Radio 5 Lives report with Sonny)
“Come to Fethiye and Turkey in 2016. It may be a little quieter but nothing much has changed. You will find the same warm welcome, blue skies, tranquil bays and friendly faces that have drawn people to Turkey for years”, say’s Suleyman Akbay of Oceanwide Properties.
What are your thoughts? Have you visited Fethiye or Turkey recently? How did you find it? Are you avoiding Turkey due to the terror threats? Please do comment and let us know.
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