That was a popular question we were asked at the 2016 London Boat Show.
There is doubt that the public’s perception is of an area over run with fanatical Muslim terrorists. The Syrian exodus of last summer had people commenting to us they didn’t want to sail in waters with dead bodies floating by, and who can blame them. The reality is almost all the Turkish people are Muslim, and lead their lives much as we do in Europe. They are family people, warm and welcoming, as horrified as you may be about the problems. In Orhaniye where we are based there is a new Syrian family who have been welcomed with open arms and supported in their new life by the villagers. To realistically believe it’s a country at war is nonsensical, but it does fuel western politicians & media needs for a bad guy. It used to be the communists of the McCarthy era in the middle of the last century, Then we had the two gulf wars and the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which they are probably still searching for! Now its the Muslim threat.
There are issues to resolve in Turkey, some are political, some relate to the huge numbers of Syrians attempting to get to specific areas of Europe.
The key questions was is it safe to travel here. Like any country there are areas best avoided, and the Foreign Office talks of an area within 10kms of the Turkish/Syrian border based around Diyarbakir. This area is nearly 618 miles (1070km) east of the tourism areas of SW Turkey, equivalent of London to Belfast and back. Last year not one of our clients witnessed anything related to this migration, most of it occurring well North of us near Kos. Feedback from one of our clients last year was “I am more in fear of Muslim fundamentalism in the UK, than Turkey. This probably makes a lot of sense, because of UK July 11 bombings and ‘je suis Charlie’ the fundamentalists are going to wage war in your country, not theirs.
In summary, Yes it’s perfectly safe to travel and sail here. Its as beautiful as ever. This year it will also be much cheaper because of the fear created by the media.
There is another tragedy here. The locals whose livelihoods depend on tourism are already losing their jobs and suffering. We have seen bases closed, people let go, and flights reduced. We predict a reduction of 50% this year. Figures for the Russian visitors over the winter have reduced by 99%!
As we were told as children “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers” is as true today as it was then.