Turkey-Syria earthquakes: UAE residents plan to visit affected areas, help loved ones

Travel operators also report flight cancellations and re-bookings for February after the disaster hit


Waheed Abbas

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 7 Feb 2023, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Feb 2023, 7:15 PM

Travel agents in the UAE on Tuesday said they are getting inquiries from residents who want to fly to Turkey and Syria to see their loved ones after the devastating earthquakes.

Yet other industry players are reporting the cancellation of bookings for travel to Turkey, a popular holiday destination among UAE residents, for the month of February.

Powerful earthquakes hit the Turkey-Syria border on Monday morning, killing over 5,000 people in the two countries as of Tuesday evening. The massive quake was felt in many other neighbouring countries as well. Dozens of nations, including the UAE, have delivered aid to the affected in both countries, where infrastructure has also taken a massive hit after the natural disaster.

Being a popular holiday destination, thousands of people from the UAE fly to Turkey’s different cities every year. Despite the disaster, flight operations from UAE to Turkey are operating as scheduled after the quake as both Emirates and flydubai confirmed that there were no flight cancellations in the aftermath of the earthquake.

TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Tours and Travels, said there are inquiries from Dubai residents whose families are staying alone in the quake-hit countries. “Inquiries have just begun to come in from families who want to travel to their home countries to see their loved ones and support them in these tough times,” he said.

Sudheesh added that they’re also receiving inquiries from travellers about whether it’s safe to travel to quake-hit countries at this point. “It’s a normal curiosity and concern that people have in such times. But I don’t see any big impact on to travel and tourism sector in Turkey,” he added.

Atish Thapa, head of marketing and business development, Cleartrip, said the call centre is receiving inquiries from passengers for cancelling or rescheduling their bookings. “There is no change in bookings for March and April. But the inquiries for cancellation and rescheduling are mainly for the bookings made last year to travel in the next 20 days (till February-end),” said Thapa.

He said Turkey was one of the top five travel destinations and has seen massive demand, especially after bottleneck issues for Schengen visas.

Raheesh Babu, chief operating officer, Musafir.com, said people are in a slightly panicky mode, but there are no restrictions on travel to Istanbul.


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