Is Turkey Safe? Travel Advisory 2023

BY: Daniela Kaňková

Turkey receives millions of tourists every year and it’s considered a safe country to visit but it might depend on the area. Some sources or statistics might suggest a different safety recommendation as there are occasional threats of terrorist attacks and ongoing Kurdish–Turkish conflict since 1987.

According to the Australian government, there is a continuing high threat of terrorist attacks. Targets could include tourist attractions, transportation hubs, business centers, and lodging and entertainment districts. People should be wary of potential threats, especially when in public or in large crowds. Citizens should also be cautious in crowded areas.

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Latest Updates and News from Turkey:

April 20 – Turkey is conducting “business as usual” after the earthquake

Travelers began to question whether it was safe to visit Turkey after the earthquake.

However, given the size of the country—nearly 800,000 km2—the top tourist sites, including Istanbul, Antalya, Mula, Zmir, Cappadocia, and Konya—are located far from the earthquake’s epicenter.

Istanbul, a more than 620 miles drive from the epicenter, hasn’t slowed down. The city on the Bosphorus Strait is still conducting “business as usual”. Last year it draw around 16 million foreign visitors.

March 16 – Earthquake in Turkey: UK team to evaluate building damage

British structural and civil engineers have traveled to Turkey to help investigate damage caused by last month’s powerful earthquake.

The Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) is conducting the investigation.

The panel consists of leading academics and industry professionals who have investigated significant earthquakes over the past three decades.

To learn from the earthquake and find ways to improve the design of buildings to make them more resilient, they will combine their findings with research conducted by Turkish teams and other structural experts.

February 20 – How many people have been affected by the earthquake?

The country’s disaster authority has reported that the death toll in Turkey exceeds 41,000. Given that more than 345,000 homes have been destroyed and large numbers of people are still missing, this number is expected to rise further.

According to the World Health Organization’s director in Europe, Hans Kluge, the worst natural disaster to hit the region in a century has left 26 million people in need in Turkey and Syria. In its 75-year history, WHO has launched the largest rescue operation of its kind.

At least 80,000 injured people are being treated in hospitals in Turkey alone, where an estimated 1 million people are living in tents and temporary shelters. Many people are angry and frustrated with the Turkish administration.

What are the most common travel scams in Turkey?

  1. Overcharging: Be aware of taxi drivers who overcharge tourists, especially at the airport. Always agree on a fare beforehand and make sure to use an official taxi with a meter.
  2. Fake guides: There have been reports of fake guides who offer tours and then demand exorbitant fees at the end of the tour. To avoid this, book tours through reputable travel agencies or hotels.
  3. The carpet scam: Some shops in tourist areas may offer to show you a demonstration of how Turkish carpets are made, followed by a high-pressure sales pitch.
  4. Fake police: Scammers posing as police officers may try to fine tourists for supposed infractions, such as not carrying their passports. Always check for proper identification before handing over money.
  5. Overpriced souvenirs: Be cautious of street vendors who may charge extremely high prices for souvenirs, especially in tourist areas.

It is always important to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and to do your research and choose reputable companies and service providers.

Popular ATM Frauds

The world is full of con artists, and Turkey is no exception. Due to the widespread nature of ATM and credit card fraud, use your card wisely in Turkey. Use your cards only when absolutely necessary, and pay close attention to how other people handle them.

Also, stay away from card readers with unusual features and always cover the keypad when entering your secret code. Finally, check your bank statements for any fraudulent activity.

If you travel to Turkey to meet someone you have only communicated with online, or if they ask you to wire them money, you run the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Never send cash to someone you have not met in person.

Is traveling solo around Turkey safe for a female?

While Turkey is generally considered safe for travelers, solo female travelers may face some challenges and it is always important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. As with traveling to any new destination, it is advisable to research your destination, take necessary safety precautions, and follow local laws and customs. Additionally, it is always a good idea to inform family or friends of your itinerary and to trust your instincts if you feel uneasy in any situation.

Is Turkey safe to visit for LGBTQIA+ people?

In Turkey, attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ individuals vary, with more accepting attitudes typically found in larger cities such as Istanbul, which is considered a progressive city and offers a welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ visitors. However, same-sex marriage remains banned in Turkey and this, combined with general homophobia, may cause discomfort for LGBTQIA+ individuals, particularly in less urban areas.

Why visit Turkey?

First and foremost, there are almost no entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers from most countries. Also, hotels, restaurants, bars, and beaches are open without any particular limitations.

Moreover, there is definitely plenty to see. From beautiful beaches and diverse landscapes to spectacular cities and ancient ruins. There is something for everyone in Turkey, so why not go this autumn?

Update Archives

January 30: US Warns Again of Possible ‘Imminent’ Attack in Turkey Following Quran Burning

The US, France, and Germany have issued warnings of a possible “imminent” terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkey following the burning of the Quran in Europe. The warning advises citizens to be cautious around places of worship and areas popular with Westerners and lists the areas of Beyoglu, Galata, Taksim, and a pedestrian mall on Istiklal Avenue in downtown Istanbul as potentially high-risk. Turkish authorities are investigating the threat and recommend avoiding crowded areas and keeping a low profile.

The warnings come after a far-right politician in Stockholm burned the Quran during a protest against Turkey blocking Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Turkey has stalled the NATO applications of Sweden and Finland, claiming that Stockholm supports terrorism.

October 31 – 35% of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are youth and children

According to data recorded by the Turkish Health Ministry, up to 35% of all coronavirus patients in September were youth and children. The majority of them were aged between 10 and 19, while around 6% were babies.

The vaccination program has been recently expanded to youth aged 15 and above. Whereas those aged between 12 and 15 with a chronic disease are also eligible to get vaccinated.

Even though young patients usually suffer from mild COVID-19 symptoms, they should follow the basic safety measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing, as there is a risk of further spreading the virus in society.

Even though schools have reopened for in-person learning, they strictly follow those rules to avoid closing again and putting the children at risk of lacking education.

Source: Daily Sabah

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