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Geopolitical and security concerns have kept tourists at bay for several years, but over the past 12 months that trend has started to reverse as foreign currencies stretch further. Having visited Istanbul myself, 4 years ago, it’s most certainly a location that should be on any wanderlust’s bucket list offering delicious food, rich culture, and an incredibly diverse and complicated history.
To get a taste of that complexity, look no further than Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s leading tourist attraction. Built in 537 AD, Hagia Sophia was first a Greek Orthodox Christian Basilica, then an Ottoman Mosque, but it was Ataturk, in 1935, who transformed it into a secular national museum to quell religious tensions. Recently, controversy has arisen again when, for the first time in 85 years, a Muslim prayer was recited in Hagia Sophia in 2016, and then in early 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recited the first verse of the Quran and dedicated it to : “souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul’s conqueror.”
Certainly a rich and complex history is alluring, and I plan to go back at some point, if for no other reason to visit the coastal Riviera and see 2 of the Ancient Wonders of the World: The ruins of the Mausoleum of Maussollos in Halicarnassus; and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. But, currently I’m evaluating.
Recently, US President Trump has ramped up sanctions on Turkey leading to a rapid currency drop.
According to CBS, the administration doubled tariffs on Aluminum and Steel to 20% and 50%, respectively. The Lira crashed, adding to a year long devaluation. Below is a table that shows the drop from the mid 3s to mid 6s ( intra-day its eclipsed 7 lira to USD).
In 24 hours…the Lira has lost 20% of its value.
Tourism had been coming back amid concerns and deals. More Complexity.
By the numbers, Turkey was the 6th most visited country in 2015, welcoming 42 million visitors. That number dropped to just 24 million in 2016 as news of a military coup circled and a terrorist attack at Ataturk airport deterred tourists from the country. I was one of them. Since then, the Lira has plummeted and the consulates of various countries have a mixed bag of recommendations. This is par for the course, but adds to the difficulties Turkey is already facing in attracting back tourism.
But a deal is a deal is a deal.
According to the Independent:
Tour operator Thomas Cook has reported a 63 per cent year-on-year increase in bookings to Turkey during 2018, with Antalya overtaking Mallorca’s Palma airport as the company’s most served for UK customers, according to reports from PA.
In 2017, tourism numbers jumped back to 32 million, and continue to increase thus far in 2018.
If you’re thinking of taking advantage of deals we’d recommend you research travel advisories from not only your home country, but from others as well.
As we noted above, depending on the state department you quote, recommendations vary. Recommendations are certainly prone to geopolitical influence and reading the recommendations from varying countries will give you a more global view of the situation.
If you do end up going: We highly recommend getting going to a Turkish bath. We enjoyed this one: