Latest travel rules for tourists heading to Turkey

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Malatya province in Turkey earlier today causing further devastation to the area. It follows a series of major quakes in the south of the country which started on February 6, 2023. As the prime tourist season draws closer, those with holidays booked to Turkey may be confused about what to do.

Travellers heading to Turkey have been warned against taking non-essential trips to certain parts of the country following a 7.8 earthquake on February 6, 2023.

The earthquake hit Gaziantep and neighbouring provinces in the southeast of Turkey, closely followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the neighbouring province of Kahramanmaras on the same day. 

AFAD, Turkey’s disaster management agency, said that close to 10,000 aftershocks have hit the region affected by the quake since then, with another 5.6 magnitude quake centred in the town of Yesilyurt in Malatya province earlier today.

With many popular tourist spots located nearby, including Antalya, travellers need to be aware of the latest travel rules.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s latest advice says: “The Turkish government has announced a national emergency in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake.

“These are the provinces of Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Adıyaman, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adana. The Turkish government has stated that only vehicles which carry aid teams and aid materials will be allowed to enter cities deemed to be inside the area of the disaster.”

Tourists currently in the affected areas have been urged to “exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities”. But for those who are yet to travel to Turkey, the rules are different.

If you have a flight booked that’s due to leave today, your airline should inform you of any changes to your journey.

If your flight or package holiday is cancelled, you should be entitled to a full refund.

For package trips booked with a third-party travel booking service like Expedia, it is best to contact them right away if you are unsure whether your holiday has been affected.

For hotels, flights, and transfers booked separately, you’ll need to call each individual vendor to explore your options.

However, it is important to note that because the most popular holiday resorts are so far away from the area where the earthquake struck, it is very unlikely holidays will be cancelled in 2023.

The country’s beach resort areas including Antalya, Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir were not impacted by the earthquakes and there is no advice against travelling there.

It is also safe to travel to Turkey’s cities, Ankara, and Istanbul, which were unaffected by the earthquake.

According to FlightRadar24 most flights to and from Antalya Airport, where many Britons arrive for their transfers to resorts, are today operating as normal.

Skyscanner shows that the same is true for Dalaman and Bodrum airports.

If, however, your holiday has not been cancelled but you no longer want to travel, you may still be able to get a refund.

Different companies operate varying rules regarding cancellations so it is best to read through your reservation to find the terms and cancel quickly if you can.

If you’re beyond the cancellation window for a hotel, calling their customer service line can help.

A finance expert at Wise Bread said: “In the midst of a natural disaster or an impending one, they may be willing to let you cancel without penalty. Or, they might be willing to shift your reservation to another hotel.”

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