Paris attacks cause Turks to reconsider tour plans

NILAY ONUM KAR
ISTANBUL
Published 18.11.2015 23:08

Turkish tour operators are reporting a 50 percent drop in the number of people willing to visit Paris after last week's terror attacks.

Some Turks are canceling or postponing their trips due to safety concerns, several Istanbul-based travel specialists have told Anadolu Agency (AA).

However, industry sources say these concerns are temporary.

Avni Sağıroğlu, an international specialist at the Istanbul-based Ani Tour company, said that many customers still have safety concerns: "Around 50 percent of our tours for November and December have been canceled because our clients do not want to go to Paris immediately following the attacks."

"We are encouraging clients who absolutely do not want to travel to Paris to visit other destinations like the Balkans or countries in the Far East," Sağıroğlu added.

Erdan Şahin, 35, a tour guide in Istanbul, is also among those who have canceled private tours of Paris because of safety concerns.

"I was planning to go to Paris along with my wife for a three-night tour on Dec. 4, but we have canceled it due to the security concerns stemming from the attacks and we also do not want to encounter visa problems," Şahin said.

The attacks are the latest terror assaults to hit Paris in a tumultuous year for the French capital, which has twice been the scene of deadly violence. The shooting attack on the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and a shooting in a kosher supermarket in January left a total of 17 people dead.

However, other Turkish travelers remain determined to go to Paris and have not canceled their plans because they think the danger has passed.

Derya Över, the marketing and product manager at the Istanbul-based Cafe Tour company, said they have received only a handful of cancelations: "There have only been four families who wanted to cancel their tours so far. Apart from those, other travelers have not changed their plans," she said.

"Moreover, just a moment ago, we received a reservation for a Paris tour, which was not expected so quickly after the attacks," she added.

Sağıroğlu said: "When some of our tours are canceled, some of our other clients are calling us to say: ‘Why have you canceled the tour? We wanted to go there, now our plans are destroyed.' "

Lee Sukyoung, 44, a Korean-English interpreter for an Istanbul-based company, also supports the tour operators' viewpoint.

"I am planning to go to Paris because I think the city is much more secure now than it was before the attacks since security has been tightened," he said.

According to travel specialists, the current fears will not last for long.

"I think the concerns will last for a maximum of one month and then everyone will return to their normal routines," Över said.

Sağıroğlu agrees, claiming that bookings for next year remain unaffected: "There have not been any cancelations for 2016 Paris tours so far. Our clients just wanted to cancel their upcoming tours. I do not think that these concerns will be long term."

Mümine Arda is a guide who has been taking Turkish tour groups around Paris for four years and she also thinks the short-term fears will fade: "If there are people who are extremely worried by these kinds of incidents, they will cancel their tours."

"I do not think others will change their schedules very much. Public concerns will disappear soon," she said.

"The places where the attacks occurred are not close to tourist areas," Arda said, adding that "it is an important detail relevant to the tourism industry."

Turkish Airlines - Turkey's largest air carrier - has also confirmed that it has neither received cancelations for Paris flights nor a noticeable decrease in sales.

France, which is one of the most visited countries in Europe, sees 83 million foreign visitors per year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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