Turkey tries to lure back visitors after quake
Top tourist attractions unharmed
August 27, 1999
Web posted at: 2:21 p.m. EDT (1821 GMT)
CNN Travel Correspondent
(CNN) -- May to November is typically the high tourist season in Turkey, but last week's earthquake coupled with the war in Kosovo has badly hurt its tourism industry. The Turkish government is urging vacationers to come back, saying that would help rebuild the country.
"In a way, this will be their contribution and support to the relief efforts because tourism is very important for the Turkish economy, and now is the time we need tourism," says Selami Karaibrahimgil, of the Turkish Tourism Office.
The World Tourism Organization lists Turkey as a top tourist destination, ranking it 19th out of 40 countries. Last year alone, it took in more than 9 million visitors. Now the devastating earthquake is making many travelers rethink their itineraries.
"They had lots of hesitation," Karaibrahimgil says. "Some of the people canceled their tours. Some of them postponed their tours."
But Turkish tourism officials say the quake didn't damage popular tourist sites, which are mainly on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. They say it also didn't hurt the tourism infrastructure in Istanbul, which is about 70 miles (113 kilometers) away from the earthquake's epicenter in Izmit.
"Airlines, hotels and others, they are fully operational, and they are not affected by the earthquake," Karsli says . "The cruise lines are operating regularly as before."
Still, some travelers are staying away. "They don't want to visit an area that's devastated by natural disaster," says Muge Karsli of Istanbul International Travel & Tours. "They also don't want to have fun, when they know there are other people suffering."