What travelers to Turkey need to know

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It has been almost a month since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, claiming the lives of thousands of people and injuring many more.

The devastating impact of the events, and the aftermath, has left questions with many travelers who had planned to visit the country in the coming days, weeks, or even months.

Now in a three-month state of national emergency, Turkey is a major tourist destination, attracting 44.6 million foreign arrivals in 2022, according to Turkish government statistics.

Many visitors will have gone to the main resorts and cities, especially in the popular winter sun destinations on the coast.

The earthquake struck near the city of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey, close to the Syrian border, at around 4.17am local time on February 6, causing more than 6,000 buildings to collapse.

Although international travelers have been advised not to travel to the affected areas, most travel to the main tourist destinations – mostly distant from the earthquake prone areas. But there will inevitably be some impact.

Here’s what we know:

The earthquake affected around 10 Turkish provinces, which were among the strongest to hit the region in over a century – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Gaziantep’s old castle, one of the most famous landmarks in the Turkish city, was badly damaged by the earthquake.

The city of Aleppo, already ravaged by 11 years of civil war, was among the most affected areas in northwestern Syria, where more than four million people already lived. dependent on humanitarian aid.

International airlines have been operating flights to and from Turkey as normal since the earthquake.

Three airports – Turkey’s Adana Airport (ADA,) Hatay Airport (HTY) and Gaziantep Oğuzeli International Airport (GZT) – were closed shortly after the earthquake. However, they have all since reopened.

Istanbul Airport, Turkey’s main international airport, has been operating as usual.

Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s national flag carrier, is allowing passengers to either rebook, or receive refunds on domestic and international flights to or from “quake-affected areas -land” on scheduled flights from February 6 to March 31, provided they were booked in advance. February 9, 2023.

There is no sign of any major disruption to travel to Turkey’s main tourist destinations and most are able to welcome visitors as usual.

Ali Kutuk of Likya Nature Travel, an Antalya-based travel agency that offers trekking tours, told CNN Travel that the agency has so far only had one cancellation, and one rebooking as a result. on the earthquake.

“We have [had] some impact on trips recently,” he says, before stressing that he doesn’t expect the situation to affect summer bookings and that locals are still making travel plans within the country “I still have doubts for the summer.”

Antalya is about 594 kilometers (369 miles) away from the earthquake zone city of Gaziantep by air. Istanbul is about 850 kilometers (528 miles) away. Other major tourist destinations such as Cappadocia, Canakkle, Bodrum and Marmaris are also far from the affected areas.

While various governments, including the US and the UK, have urged travelers to avoid certain areas affected by the earthquake, citizens are not advised to stay away from areas in there is no effect in Turkey at the moment.

Most of Turkey’s major tourist destinations continue to welcome visitors. For many in the country, the recent earthquake has made it more important that people continue to travel to unaffected areas of Turkey for their holidays.

Many people in Turkey depend on tourism income and, after suffering a pandemic shutdown a few years ago, were banking on a resurgence in visitors until the quake hit -land.

In 2021, Turkey’s travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP was $59.3 billion, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The World Bank says the earthquakes have caused about $34 billion in direct damage in Turkey.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched two urgent appeals with a total value of 200 million Swiss francs (about $214 million) to help relief efforts in both countries .

There are many other groups that are also on the ground responding. You can help by clicking here.

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