The pros and cons will be highly personal, and critical to consider.
Travelers today, more than ever before, roam the world with an understanding that each trip carries a certain amount of risk. Walking down the street carries a risk, scuba diving carries a risk, skiing the Alps carries a risk. We evaluate each one separately and individually, and as travelers we go on collecting experiences and collecting passport stamps.
In the aftermath of terrorism, particularly in highly visited destinations, the decision becomes complicated, murky, urgent. After the November attacks, Paris suffered a dramatic drop in tourism; according to the Guardian, “occupancy was just 35% [in December], in January it was 50%, and only now has it risen to more than 60%.”
Turkey, which has suffered a wave of attacks in the last year and saw two such incidents in Istanbul this year alone, is also feeling the downturn in tourism numbers. Economists are forecasting a potential loss of $8 billion, based on the significant annual impact that tourism has on Turkey’s economy.
So should you stay away? Or should you support one of the world’s most interesting destinations in their time of greatest need? Ultimately, the decision is personal. Even still, two factors can help.
First is the extreme value currently associated with travel to Turkey. Hotel rooms—nice ones—are going for as little at $33 at our most recent search. A query on Expedia for five-star hotels in Istanbul under $75 a night for the week of April 11 turned up a whopping 24 results (though their classification of five-star hotels is questionable—it included the Holiday Inn Airport hotel). Among the hits was the $33 a night Tria Hotel in Sultanahmet Square, which normally costs $128 per night. The Fides—with coffered ceilings, oriental rugs, and entire walls of windows in each room—was down to $35 a night from $125. A T+L favorite, the Vault Karakoy, is going for just $84 a night.
Even still, the U.S. State Department this week revised its Turkey travel advisory, elevating the status from alert to a warning. (Alerts are a temporary red flag connected to a specific incident, while warnings are a more permanent type of disclaimer.) The warning concentrates on areas near the Syrian border and 16 southeastern provinces. Istanbul is not in the affected areas.
The State Department’s warning is a cautionary statement, and it doesn’t go so far as to say that you shouldn’t plan a trip. It advises travelers to stay at “hotels with identifiable security measures in place,” to “stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations,” and “exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.” By now, they should be obvious points.
So, tell us: where do you stand? Would you stay or would you go?