S'poreans give Turkey a miss after travel notice

With a state of emergency now in force, Turkish hoteliers and retailers say they're feeling a severe pinch as an already weakened tourism industry takes another hit after last week's abortive coup attempt.

Travellers are calling off plans to visit Turkey after a travel notice was issued on Wednesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advising Singaporeans to reconsider non-essential travel to Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey has been rocked by violence in recent months, including an attack by three suicide bombers on Istanbul Ataturk Airport last month that left at least 42 dead, and an attempted military coup last Friday that resulted in at least 232 people dead and 1,400 injured.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday declared a three- month state of emergency.

Travel agencies told The Straits Times that demand for trips to Turkey had plummeted.

Dynasty Travel, which had about 1,500 customers travelling to Turkey last year, has seen bookings decrease by more than 50 per cent. Its public relations and communications director Alicia Seah said all its tour packages to Turkey up to the third quarter of this year have been diverted to other destinations.

SA Tours said it has not organised any packages to Turkey for the past three months, following attacks earlier this year.

Ms Zuran Ilias was in Istanbul for a holiday with her family when the coup attempt happened. She said she could hear low-flying jets and explosions from her apartment, as well as prayers being broadcast from the mosques aimed at rallying the population. "My mother couldn't sleep throughout the night," said the 23-year old.

Chief operations officer for volunteer group Thatsus.sg Iskandar Reza Ismail had planned a trip for a group of 30 to Turkey in December to assist Syrian refugees there. He said he will make alternative arrangements to go to Jordan instead if the situation in Turkey remains volatile. "Many of our volunteers are students, so of course their parents are concerned and told them not to go," he said.

Mr Shahrizal Ismail was set on Turkey for his honeymoon next year, but is now considering other destinations. Said the 34-year-old computer graphics artist: "I don't feel safe travelling there any more."

Correction note: This story has been updated for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans give Turkey a miss after advisory'. Print Edition | Subscribe