It never seems to be quiet in Turkey.
Last week an attempted coup tried to remove President Erdogan from power. It failed, and since then Mr Erdogan has been on a more figurative warpath, with hundreds arrested and thousands of police officers and academics sacked.
Now, a three-month state of emergency has been announced, giving Mr Erdogan even more power to deal with those who he felt sparked the coup in the first place. He has also announced a temporary suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Over 2.5million British tourists visit Turkey each year, according to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), making it one of the more popular destinations for a holiday. But with the on-going problems you would be right to be concerned and at least take extra precautions before and during your visit.
If things get any worse then bookings may be under threat of cancellation – a provider won’t want to send you on holiday to somewhere dangerous as much as you wouldn’t want to travel there.
Package Travel Regulations
Under sections 12 and 13 of the Package Travel Regulations, a retailer is bound to tell you as soon as possible if any significant changes need to be made to your contract, such as if Turkey no longer becomes a viable option. But don’t wait to be told – be pro-active and speak to your travel agent to find out more about the on-going situation, and don’t be fobbed off!
We would always suggest however that you gather your evidence, from the news, travel review websites, local newspapers to demonstrate why you feel that it’s not safe to travel there. You should always present that evidence (copies) to the Travel Company and ask for your rights under the Regulations. Remember, the Regulations do not say that you cannot call for your Regulation 12 & 13 Rights; complain with evidence using the Regulations!
If the agent does declare Turkey as unsafe you will have options. These potentially include accepting an alternative package to a new destination of an equivalent or higher value; choosing an alternative of lesser value and being refunded the difference; or a full refund. So whatever happens with Turkey, if it becomes unsafe as a destination you are protected under these regulations.
As for the government, the FCO is not currently advising against travel to the majority of Turkey (understandably the border with Syria is regarded as a no-go area) but you should take care during your visit, and remain vigilant – avoid any protests and make sure you listen if someone in authority asks you to do something!
It does advise that you need to check with your flight provider to ensure they are still operating the flight, as services have been disrupted. Even if it is going ahead, you should also allow more time for flights due to more intensive checks at the airport.
It’s mainly cities including Istanbul and Ankara where you may experience disturbances, so if you’re one of the many people heading to a coastal resort you might not see anything unusual. Keep checking back on Holiday Travel Watch for further updates as the situation in Turkey develops.
Take a tip from us: don’t just use UK FCO advices to guide you, look at other countries travel advisories and do a compare and contrast as to what they are saying – use this as part of your evidence!
Always check out those local newspapers online. You can get a good feel for what is happening in a resort or an area. There are many English Language newspapers and they will generally offer a warts and all review of what is going on in the area!
This is one that many holidaymakers forget to check! Speak with your travel insurance company and make sure that they are happy to carry on providing you with cover! If they are not going to protect you, you will find that you are in breach of the holiday contract because most contracts require you to travel with travel insurance! This is what they call an ‘anticipatory frustration of contract’; it is not the fault of either party, and each party should react accordingly! Take care not to accept hastily arranged travel insurance by the travel company. Many holidaymakers found in 2010 that such insurances did not provide the cover they needed, particularly if there was an outbreak of public disorder!
What to do if they do not want to give you your rights!
Whatever you do, take care not to cancel unilaterally because you could lose all your money and they will argue that you did not give them a chance to prove that they were right about the destination!
The key is evidence; gather it, present it and warn them in writing that you will go on the holiday under duress and that if anything goes wrong, you will hold them fully accountable for all events and costs. Whilst this does not satisfy any angst you may have about travelling, it will help to protect you if some event does take place whilst you are in Turkey. Remember, if you are there, gather that evidence – but be discreet – do not be seen taking photographs of tanks or other military operations. Remember to speak with other holidaymakers – get their details because they could be your witnesses and you theirs! If you go, make sure that you take with you the British Embassy Contact details and call them if you are concerned.
These are difficult times for ordinary holidaymakers, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Similar events took place in Egypt and Tunisia in 2010/11 and Tunisia in 2015 and you may find this article useful for the detail it provides to help you navigate the problems you face with your travel company!