Several terrorist attacks in recent months and the 2016 attempt by elements of the Turkish armed forces at a coup d'état have rightly frightened potential visitors to Turkey.
On January 25, 2017, the United States Department of State issued a warning for Americans considering travel to Turkey. The warning is the most daunting yet, citing increased acts of terrorism targeting foreigners, and specifically Americans and American interests, as well as "an increase in anti-American rhetoric." Here is the full text of the warning.
On July 21, 2016, the Turkish government declared a State of Emergency in the country, giving the president and other top leaders extraordinary powers. The State of Emergency has been extended into 2017.
Until the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, I was not personally worried about traveling to Turkey. Since the coup attempt, the Turkish authorities have been carrying out a large-scale purge of people whom they suspect of having felt sympathy for the coup attempt and/or for allegiance to Fetullah Gülen, the Islamic preacher and business and education entrepreneur who was once a close ally of major Turkish politicians.
Gülen and his followers are accused of undue influence in Turkish political, academic, military, judicial and law enforcement institutions. This means that tens of thousands of people, including military and law enforcement personnel, may lose their jobs and livelihoods, and a large number may be charged with legal offenses. What this means for society—and tourism—is unclear, so it is difficult to say if or how the safety of foreign visitors may be compromised.
The State of Emergency may mean even more vigorous security measures by the government and law enforcement.
If you are a male considering travel to Istanbul, read this!
My best advice at present is to read and consider the travel advisories issued by your government and other government agencies concerned with the safety of their nationals while traveling abroad:
I follow the diplomats' advice to avoid large gatherings, especially any that are political, etc. Please read these Travel Advisories:
As of 25 January 2017, The United Kingdom's Foreign Office has the following advisory on its website:
"Attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations. Nevertheless, it’s likely that some attacks will also target western interests and tourists from western countries, particularly in the major cities." Here is the full warning.
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Syria.
"The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces
Siirt, Tunceli, Diyarbakir and Hakkari provinces.
The US Department of State has a travel warning on its website which includes this:
"The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country."
The Embassy of the United States in Ankara website also issues useful advice.
Here is the warning for Australian travelers.
Here is the US
Department of State's Consular
Information Sheet on Turkey,
Turkey Travel Warning and Crisis in Turkey page, with every possible warning and caution. The Department of State has also created a smartphone app that anyone—US citizen or not—can use to keep track of alerts, warnings, and safety bulletins. More...
Read the TTP
Safety Page, and make
travel decisions you can be comfortable
Government Traveler Records
Many national governments maintain records of travelers visiting foreign destinations so they can alert travelers on the road to dangers as they may arise.
For example, if you apply to join the US Department of State's Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), US diplomats in Turkey will have a record of your personal, passport, contact and emergency information in an online database. If they feel it advisable to alert you to a dangerous situation, the database can make it possible. More...
If you are not a US citizen, your country's government may have a similar program, to which you may wish to apply. It can't hurt, and it may help, if only to allay anxiety.
—by Tom Brosnahan