Tour operators are working to assist travelers impacted by the mutual suspension of visas between the United States and Turkey, and many hope that the situation is temporary.
Koray Edemen, president of Keytours Vacations, tells Travel Agent that the company has a few clients and travel agents booked to travel to Turkey within the next 60 days. Keytours has reached out to all of them to offer alternative destinations, a postponement or a full refund.
“Although we do not think this problem will continue for long, we like to offer our customers various options and not to interrupt their well-earned vacations,” Edemen says.
Other tour operators are reporting that the ban will have less of an impact on their business.
“Though we have a handful of hotel properties in Istanbul, this ban will have minimal impact to our business,” a Delta Vacations spokesperson tells Travel Agent.
A spokesperson for Abercrombie & Kent says that it does not have any itineraries in Turkey offered for this year, and for 2018, the first departure is not scheduled until May. While it is too early to tell if the current visa situation will have an impact on those 2018 departures, the tour operator is assuring prospective travelers that, if a journey to Turkey is not possible, they will offer a full refund.
Ben Weiher, vice president for global operations at G Adventures, tells Travel Agent that the company is supporting its affected American customers in modifying their travel plans.
“We sincerely hope this is a short-lived need,” Weiher says. “This has the potential to negatively affect thousands of families’ lives in Turkey, since travel and tourism are so pivotal to the country’s economic prosperity. We strongly urge both countries to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Weiher noted that, although Turkey has long drawn culture- and adventure-seeking American travelers, political and security conditions have contributed to a steep decline in travel to the destination over the past two years, which “hurts everyone.”
“We had hoped and will continue to hope for a swift return to conditions that welcome visitors to Turkey from all parts of the globe,” Weiher says.
Last week Turkey and the United States suspended the issuance of visas over a diplomatic dispute stemming from the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee. Turkish Airlines reports that the suspension will not affect passengers on flights connecting through Istanbul. For all other passengers, the airline is offering refunds on flights through October 31.