Update – July 2106 – Dear readers – If you have arrived here looking for information following the failed military coup in Turkey on the 15th of July 2016 , you should follow the advice of your government’s travel department. This is because holiday insurance policies can become invalid if your actions are in direct contrast to what your government is saying.
As of the 18th July, the USA has updated their policy to say…
“In light of the July 15 coup attempt and its aftermath, we suggest U.S. citizens reconsider travel to Turkey at this time. This replaces the Travel Warning dated June 27, 2016.” – Read more about that here
As of the 17th July, the UK Travel department updated their policy to say….
“The situation in Turkey appears to be calming following an attempted coup overnight on 15-16 July. The security environment, however, remains potentially volatile. Following earlier disruption, flights to and from airports in Turkey are returning to normal, although some disruption remains and you should check with your airline or tour operator before travelling.” Read more and stay up to date here
On Friday, an act of terrorism stunned people around the world. A gunman let rip on a Tunisian beach and since then traffic to this website has gone crazy. The daily amount of users, since the site went live in 2010, has never been so high.
I often answer questions from readers about general safety in Turkey but now, my inbox is filling up with e-mails from holiday-makers who want to know whether Turkey is safe from an attack by ISIS?
My honest answer is, I don’t know.
For all the safety advice I can give, life throws up unexpected, and sometimes surprising, situations.
Who’d have thought bombs would have blown out the London underground ten years ago, or, has happened in Tunisia, that people would die as they lay on their sun loungers.
Asking me to confirm that ISIS will not attack in Turkey is unrealistic.
Just as unrealistic as if I were to ask you for confirmation that an attack will not happen in the UK.
I pose this question to you, because the official website for the British Government states that the likelihood of a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom is severe.
They also state that in other countries, such as Spain, there is a high threat of terrorism.
On the government website of the UK, they list various degrees of terrorism threats ranging from low to severe, for every country in the world.
Unless you are a member of ISIS yourself, there is not one person on this planet who can confirm that they won’t strike somewhere. Unfortunately, welcome to the 21st century.
Global terrorism is a fact.
ISIS can strike anywhere at any time.
But what are the chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack?
I realize this all sounds “doom and gloom” and does not fill anyone with optimism for the future, so I searched the Internet for stats and data about the likelihood of being caught up in a terrorist attack.
This article titled “10 Things More Likely to Kill You Than Terrorism” states that you are more likely to die in your bathtub from drowning.
This article titled “How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?” says you are four times more likely to be killed by a lightning bolt than by a terror attack.
Various articles around the Internet state that there is roughly a 1 in a 20,000,000 million chance of dying from a terrorist attack.
But that is not enough. We want facts from verified sources, so I looked at the official website for Global terrorism which is run by…
“an international network of scholars committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.”
For Turkey, from 1970 to 2014, there have been 3144 incidents that were classed as terrorism. This includes a variety of incidents including assassinations, armed assaults, attacks against military and police. The peak of all these happened in 1992.
Since then, terrorism in Turkey has actually decreased.
So should you cancel your holiday to Turkey?
While I cannot answer your questions about ISIS, what I can promise you is that Turkish people do not want the kind of incident that happened on Friday to happen here.
There may be small cells of ISIS within the country, the same as there are small cells of ISIS living and existing in the UK, but the general population just want to work, feed their families and have a good life, same as the people in Tunisia.
Tunisian workers formed a shield around foreigners on that beach, and I am quite sure Turkish people would do the same, if it happened here. Also much the same as in the western world, the authorities in Turkey i.e. police and army, have strict guidelines and procedures on what to do incase of a threat or an attack. They are professional and trained.
Life is going on as normal. Many of my Turkish friends working in the tourism sector of Turkey are genuinely upset that people are considering cancelling their holiday.
Even as I write now, there are tourists in the bars, on beaches and on excursions. They are having a good time, and many of my expats friends living here, state firmly, that they refuse to let the terrorists dictate their lives by returning to the UK, where according to the British government, there is just the same threat of terrorism.
But what about the fact that Turkey shares a border with Syria?
Ok, so let’s try and get some more hardcore facts about this issue.
If you plan to travel to the regions of Mardin, Gaziantep or Sanliurfa then yes, you will be in areas that are considered by both the Turkish and British government to be hotspots. These regions are close to the border and all but essential travel is advised.
However Turkey is a massive country. It is bigger than places like France, Spain or Japan. It covers 783,562 km² of land and is the 37th largest country in the world.
So at the moment, I am in Altinkum on the Aegean coast, which is NOT classed as a potential hotspot by either the Turkish government or the British. The government website simply asks people to take a look at their general travel advice which also includes local laws and customs, health and money.
According to Google maps, the distance from Altinkum to the Syrian / Turkish border is 1,353 kilometres.
That is roughly the same distance from London, in the UK to Milan in Italy. Two different countries.
It would be like selling your house in the UK out of fear for your safety because a terrorist event happened in Italy. Borders of countries are simply man-made marks on this planet. They can distort our sense of reality whereas distance measured in factual data, does not.
Let’s pick another place on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Antalya is NOT a hotspot destination either.
From Antalya to the Syrian border, it is 881 kilometres.
From London to Paris, it is only 463 kilometres. But once again, two different countries.
Try it for yourself by using Google maps and you will instantly see that all the touristic places in Turkey like Dalayan, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Istanbul etc are a massive, huge distance away from the Syrian border.
It is easy when reading newspapers and examining official government websites to become concerned but don’t give into a growing trend that is urbanely called fear porn, or in the world of head doctors, a catastrophic thinking style.
What is Fear Porn?
In everyday life, fear porn is a heightened reaction of emotions and thoughts to negative issues and media topics, to the point, where you actually go looking for negative stuff to reinforce the belief, therefore becoming addicted to fear.
So when bad incidents do occur in our lives, you get a kick out of it and actually get emotionally high because your mind goes into the “I was right” frame of thinking, instead of taking a step back and looking at the larger picture that we are infact billions of people on a planet, where at any given time, different and varying events are happening, most of which are normal and quite uneventful.
That is why newspapers and television news always feature doom and gloom issues.
Because it keeps people coming back for more.
It keeps the money machines rolling.
So regarding Turkey, ISIS and Syria, I hope I have answered your questions and the choice of whether you come to Turkey, is yours and no-one elses.
As for me, I am staying right here in the country to continue with my normal, everyday and uneventful life in the sun.
There is no other place on earth where I would rather be and there are thousands of other foreigners who feel just the same.