Bad Prognosis for Turkey Tourism
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Tuesday that the U.S. government has authorized the ordered departure of Defense Department dependents from Turkey, including those at Incirlik Air Base.
This includes military personnel, as well as family members, primarily living in Izmir and Mugla. The Pentagon described the move as an “abundance of caution,” – a response to the security concerns in the region. No specific threat was mentioned in the official communique, but the decision will impact about 670 out of the 770 US Defense Department dependents in Turkey. At the same time, the US State Department issued an updated travel warning for Turkey, effective March 29, 2016:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey.
The U.S. Department of State published a list of security measures:
- Avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border.
- Stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations.
- Exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.
- Stay away from political gatherings and rallies.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities in an emergency.
- Monitor local media.
- Stay at hotels with identifiable security measures in place.
Turkish travel experts are already predicting that the travel warnings and potential security threats will seriously impact the numbers of tourists expected to visit Turkey in 2016, and the local travel industry. Even German tourism giant TUI reported a 40 percent drop in bookings to Turkey this summer due to safety concerns, while industry analyst GfK predicted a more than 30 percent slump in Turkey bookings for 2016. First Crystal Cruises and MSC have suspended their cruises to Turkey, and the list could go on.