“British nationals made over 3.8 million visits to Turkey in 2022,” the UK Foreign Office says. But on 6 February 2023, an earthquake measuring 7.8 hit close to the southeastern city of Gaziantep, close to the border with Syria, with a devastating impact on the area.
Nine hours later a 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit the neighbouring province of Kahramanmaras, and there have been several strong after-shocks and more minor earthquakes.
The United Nations says: “Tens of thousands of people have been killed and many more have been injured.”
Some readers considering visits at Easter and in the summer have expressed concerns about possible risks associated with the seismic activity that caused the tragedy.
These are the key questions and answers.
Have any tourist areas in Turkey been affected by the earthquake?
No. The earthquakes occurred along the East Anatolian Fault – which extends northeast from the area hit on 6 February to the far east of Turkey, close to the frontier with Armenia and Georgia. The main Mediterranean tourist areas are well to the west of the affected region and are well away from geological fault lines.
The closest Mediterranean holiday region is centred on Antalya, which is over 300 miles/500km away from the affected region. Resorts such as Fethiye, Marmaris and Bodrum are even more distant.
I am reading about repeated earthquakes. Should I be worried?
Not if you will be avoiding the affected region. The US Geological Survey says: “It is extremely common for hundreds of aftershocks to occur over the next few weeks, months, or possibly years. Eventually, the frequency of these aftershocks will decrease.”
Will I hinder the relief effort if I holiday in Turkey?
No, quite the opposite. Assuming you do not attempt to travel to the affected area, you will be contributing to the Turkish economy and are therefore indirectly helping with the massive humanitarian operation and the reconstruction programme.
With some evidence that some tourists are staying away because of misplaced concerns, the next few weeks and months could comprise a worthwhile time to visit in terms of finding good value and a warm welcome.
Have flights and holidays to Turkey been cancelled?
No. On Thursday 2 March, for example, there are flights to Antalya from Birmingham, London Stansted and Leeds Bradford on Jet2, and from London Gatwick, Manchester and Liverpool on easyJet. Many other links are operating between the UK and the holiday airports of Bodrum and Dalaman.
Package holidays are running normally, with Tui offering a week’s five-star all-inclusive at Lara Beach near Antalya, departing on 4 March, for £420 per person from Birmingham, based on two sharing. The price includes daytime flights on SunExpress, 20kg of baggage and coach transfers from Antalya airport to the resort.
Will my travel insurance be valid?
Yes, as long as you avoiding areas for which the Foreign Office advises against travel.
What does the travel industry say?
In the wake of the tragedy, Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, the travel association, said: “We are part of a global industry that celebrates exploring different countries and cultures. We feel these events deeply and share our sympathies with those affected.”