Simon Calder: Turkey and Central Europe travel Q&A amid protests and flooding

Our Travel Editor at Large addresses holiday-makers' concerns over planned trips to these two destinations

The civil strife in Turkey has raised concerns among many holidaymakers planning summer trips to Turkey, especially to the largest city, Istanbul. In addition, the severe flooding in Central Europe is disrupting travel to and within key tourist destinations – particularly Prague. How concerned should you be – and what are your rights and options should you decide not to travel?

Q: What is the latest Foreign Office advice to prospective travellers to Turkey?

A: Basically the same as it has been for months: there are a few areas in the east and south east of Turkey that travellers are urged to avoid, particularly on the Syrian border, but those are not places that tourists would find themselves.

A news broadcast by the BBC at the weekend saying that the Foreign Office warns against “all but essential travel to Turkey” was wrong; see bit.ly/TurkFCO for the latest advice.

In the cities, the Foreign Office says “You should avoid all demonstrations and leave the area if one develops,” and advises that you “allow extra time for local travel, particularly airport transfers”.

 

Q: How does the situation compare with other countries such as Egypt which have seen similar unrest?

A: The pictures of Taksim Square in Istanbul have similarities with those of Tahrir Square in Cairo, but the conflicts are very different. This isn’t about overthrowing a dictatorship – the Justice and Development Party of the current prime minister, Mr Erdogan, received almost 50 per cent of votes at the most recent election, performing far better than any other party.

Even if the level of civil disruption were to get as intense as it did in Egypt, it is unlikely that the Foreign Office would do any more than it did in Egypt – which boiled down to: “If you’re in the big cities, get out – but if you’re in a coastal resort, stay put”. That proved to be shrewd advice in Egypt.

Were violence to flare in Turkish cities – particularly Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and the third city, Izmir – the FCO might well take a similar view.

 

Q: Suppose the Foreign Office were to warn against “All but essential travel” to Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul - what would the legal implications be?

A: This is all strictly hypothetical. But were you to go to the city, your travel insurance will be invalidated. UK tour operators would be obliged to stop sending people there, and to bring back clients already in the area. The scheduled airlines, though, will keep flying – and there is no obligation for them to allow passengers cancellations. British Airways, however, has told The Independent that it will allow passengers booked to Istanbul to defer travel to the city until later this month.

 

Q: And if you’re simply unhappy about going to Turkey?

A: Around 2.5m British travellers are booked to go to Turkey this summer - some of whom will be thinking “I wasn’t expecting sun, sea and tear gas”. Bluntly, no holiday company will let you cancel without penalty. If the situation deteriorates, it’s possible that they may let you switch to a different holiday with the same company, but that’s a benefit that is entirely at the firm’s discretion.

 

Q: Switching to central Europe – with severe flooding in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, what’s the latest advice for travellers?

A: The Czech capital appears to be worst hit. The latest Foreign Office advice (at bit.ly/CzechFCO) says: “The Mayor of Prague advises against unnecessary travel to Prague until the State of Emergency is lifted. Disruption to water, gas and electricity services may occur in affected areas. Some tourist sights are not accessible, eg Charles Bridge. Vulnerable areas close to the river and hilly areas where there is a danger of landslip have been closed to the public.”

That does not seem appealing. If you are booked on a package holiday and your hotel is closed or inaccessible, then you should be able to cancel. But most people who go to the Czech capital book flights and hotels separately. The airport is on a hill, so flights will continue – but if you’ve decided against going on the reasonable grounds that you won’t enjoy the trip, you won’t get compensation.

However, The Independent has learned that British Airways is allowing passengers booked in the next few days to Prague, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna to defer travel free of charge to later in the month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London