Despite intensive lobbying from the Turkish government and tourism companies, Turkey has not been taken off the UK’s travel red list. Travel to and from red list countries is highly restricted and requires paying up to £2,285 per traveller for an 11-day quarantine upon return to the UK. France has moved to upgrade Turkey from its amber list to the French red list following rising cases of Covid-19 in Turkey.
Tourism represents a key pillar of the Turkish economy and is directly linked to the regime in Ankara. This means travel to Turkey is not just unsafe but also unethical. Tourism to Turkey funds ethnic cleansing and brutal attacks against democracy. Boycotting Turkish tourism a powerful weapon in the fight against Turkish state fascism.
The situation in Turkey remains critical with brutal crackdowns against Kurds and political opponents of the regime being commonplace. Recent wildfires, have hit tourist destinations in the country and seen many criticise the regime for its lack of response to the destruction. Whilst the state spends millions on waging war against any who defy it, and the President Erdoğan spends public money on a personal palace, little is being done about the infernos raging across the country. The state’s response has been especially weak in areas inhabited by Kurds and other minorities.
To add insult to injury, a ruling party AKP official for the region of Tunceli sparked outrage in Turkey by posting a photoshopped image of a fire-fighting plane over local forest fires. Meanwhile, the AKP Mayor Tahir Saklı sparked further outrage by branding concern over a fire near a Kurdish village as a “fuss” over nothing.
The regime has also been criticised for its weak response to the Covid-19 crisis, with previous attempts to falsify coronavirus case numbers revealing just how desperate the state is to cover up its failures. With the arrival of the delta variant Turkey has seen cases rise five-fold in the past two weeks.
Despite, these clear safety issues (not to mention the unethical nature of tourism supporting a brutal regime) the European tourism industry has continued to push for relaxing restrictions on travel to Turkey. An approach which the Turkish state has also encouraged. Clearly the regime and these complicit companies care more about profit than the lives of people in Turkey or the tourists they are trying to attract.