Turkey bookings slow as customers raise summer holiday fears

Growth in Turkey travel
By Harry Kemble
21/02/2023
Home » Turkey bookings slow as customers raise summer holiday fears

Travel agents say bookings for Turkey have ‘definitely slowed’ following the series of devastating earthquakes in the country.

The latest earthquakes of 6.4 and 5.8 magnitudes struck Turkey’s southernmost Hatay province last night.

They hit the same region where a massive earthquake on 6 February has already claimed more than 44,000 lives in Turkey and Syria. 

Although the earthquake zone is hundreds of miles from the nearest tourist resorts, millions of displaced people are being housed in hotels on the coast.

Some people on social media have expressed concerns about whether these hotels will reopen to holidaymakers this summer and, if they do, what will happen to the earthquake victims.

TUI confirmed to Travel Gossip that hotels it features that are normally closed for the winter season are supporting the country’s relief effort.

It said: “Our thoughts remain with those affected by the devastating events in Turkey and TUI is supporting humanitarian initiatives in the country, as are the majority of our hoteliers.”

Ice Travel Group’s weekly tracker reveals interest in Turkey almost halved after the first set of earthquakes on February 6. Data is collected from holiday comparison sites – Icelolly.com and TravelSupermarket.

Sales director Stuart Barrett said searches for holidays in Turkey dropped by 45% week on week. “We saw some beneficiaries from the earthquakes, like Marrakech, the Costas in Spain, Dubai, Cyprus and Bulgaria,” said Stuart.

“We all know that the earthquakes happened miles away from the resorts, but it does seem to have a knock-on effect in terms of demand.”

Both Paul Hardwick, Fred Olsen Travel’s Head Of Commercial, and John Warr, Travel Village Group Managing Director, said customers had raised concerns about holidays to Turkey.

John explained: “We’ve had people phoning in, who are going away in 2024. They’re slightly concerned about whether their holiday is going ahead.

“The bookings for Turkey have definitely slowed down overall.”

He added: “For the whole of January, we had strong booking levels for Tenerife, Dalaman and Antalya but last week we had no Dalaman and Antalya was half way down the [bookings] table.”

He went on to say that the Blackpool-based agency had ‘a sense that people would shy away from Turkey’ following the quakes.

In contrast, Cyprus has grown in popularity, he said.

Travel Village Group has turned off marketing campaigns promoting Turkey out of respect for the victims of the earthquakes, John added.

Speaking before the latest earthquakes yesterday, Paul said: “We’ve had a few customers ask about whether their holiday will go ahead but we said that most of the hotels are around 1,000 kilometres away from the epicentre,” he added.

“The hope is that everything will be running as normal in the summer.”

However, he said that people who would traditionally book Turkey for their summer holiday were now enquiring about Spain and destinations in the western Mediterranean.

“If we can keep tourism numbers for Turkey up, it will bring money back into the economy. What the country needs long term is tourism,” he said.

“We probably need to leave it for a few weeks but once that is done then going to Turkey is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a big destination for us, but it’s not the strongest.”

Barrhead Travel President Jacqueline Dobson believes Turkey will remain one of Barrhead customers’ ‘most loved destinations’ despite the devastation suffered by the country’s population.

“Our thoughts remain with those in both Turkey and Syria for the unimaginable situation they’re enduring, particularly following the further tremors this week,” she added.  

“If anything, our customers are concerned about how they can help as many are repeat customers and will visit year after year, with strong connections to the people.

“We know holidaymakers will feel that they’ll want to support the local economies more than ever.”

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