As conflict in the Middle East continues, Turkey has been subject to dangerous unrest. This weekend the US embassy published an emergency travel warning stating that there are ‘credible threats’ to tourist areas in Turkey, particularly in the cities of Istanbul and Antalya.
“For the first time the warning includes the coastal areas in addition to major cities and Eastern Turkey,” comments Beverly Parsons, president of the American Yacht Charter Association and director of Interpac Yachts. “Sadly, the situation is having a devastating result on the yacht charter industry and tourism in general for one of the world’s greatest cruising destinations.”
Parsons adds that many of Turkey’s top charter yachts are making plans to relocate this summer to Montenegro, Croatia, and other areas of the Mediterranean. “Turkey has been Interpac’s ‘number one’ destination for decades, but unfortunately this will not be the case in 2016,” she says.
Charter broker at Nicholson Yachts, Sarah Sebastian concurs that interest in the region has significantly declined. “Last year I had great summer charters from gullets to large motoryachts visiting Turkey, all of which were American families,” she explains. “But I don’t think they will be calling me this year."
Turkey-based Zoom Yachting is on the frontline of the fallout from the political situation. “We believe the current situation will unfortunately affect the Turkish superyacht season as well as it will the whole of the Med,” says Onno Ebbens. “Although popular cruising areas like Gocek and Bodrum will remain unaffected by the migrant and terrorist situation, it seems clear that Turkey might not be the first cruising choice for owners and charter guests.”
“Although popular cruising areas like Gocek and Bodrum will remain unaffected by the migrant and terrorist situation, it seems clear that Turkey might not be the first cruising choice for owners and charter guests.”
Two weeks ago, Zoom Yachting was in touch with 47 yachts on the French coastline and asked them if they ad plans visiting Turkey this year. Although most yachts did not have an itinerary prepared for the season, 56.5 per cent believed they would not visit Turkey, and only 4.4 per cent had Turkey planned.
“At the moment it seems that the major cities and the tourist region of Antalya are considered high-risk areas,” Ebbens advises. "Superyachts visiting Turkey may consider cruising Cesme, Bodrum and Gocek area.”
While there are still charter bookings this summer out of the Marmaris and Bodrum areas, the current situation in Turkey begs the question as to how long these bookings will last as, unfortunately, unrest does not seem to be calming down. In the meantime, up and coming superyacht destinations such Croatia and Montenegro may feel the benefits of an increased fleet in their waters.