The Istanbul attack, which at the time of writing had killed 36 and left 140 injured, follows a spate of terror-related incidents in Turkey over the past year, which has already led to a huge decline in meetings business for the former European hotspot.
According to C&IT’s latest State of the Industry report, some 40% of event planners have witnessed a decline in demand for the destination, with half specifically concerned about Istanbul. Tina Morris, managing director of events at AddingValue, said: "We used to see a lot of demand for Istanbul as it's a city that can offer delegates a unique experience and it's only a short flight. But we're no longer putting it on the pitch list as our clients don't think it's safe - we've seen a big drop in demand."
Eda Ozden, director of business development at MEP Destination Business Solutions in Turkey, said the latest attack was a shock. "There is a great deal of security at the airports at the moment so this has been quite a shock to us. We haven’t had any cancelled events, because sadly, most had already cancelled."
She added that tourism had dropped by around 42%, with a much larger drop in meetings and events business. "Sadly, I think that after the latest attacks, even fewer people will want to come. Turkish DMCs and hotels have done a great deal to ramp up security for events. Unfortunately our border makes us vulnerable. We are still seeing investment though, including a new Viceroy and the opening of Nikki Beach. I think 2016 is a lost year for us, but I hope that when things calm down, international business travellers will remember what a fantastic destination it is and start to travel again. Luckily we are still seeing meetings and events from the local market, but we are looking forward to when things calm down and start to see a rise in international business."
A statement issued by ABTA advised travellers in Istanbul to follow the advice of the local authorities and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. "People due to travel should speak to their travel company or airline for information about travel to and from Istanbul. Flights to and from Ataturk International Airport are resuming gradually."
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