Will foreign travel leave you in the danger zone?

Melanie Bien
Sunday 23 November 2003 01:00

British holidaymakers planning a trip to Turkey may find their plans in disarray in the wake of last Thursday's bombing of the British consulate and the headquarters of the HSBC bank in Istanbul.

The latest attacks came less than a week after terrorists targeted two synagogues in Istanbul. And, worryingly, the British Foreign Office (FCO) says it has information to suggest that further attacks may be attempted.

Yet the situation is confusing for holidaymakers because the FCO hasn't warned visitors against travelling to Turkey; it only advises against visiting Istanbul and other big cities - unless your visit is essential.

"There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey," says the FCO's website. "We urge you to be vigilant in all parts of the country, and especially in the vicinity of potential terrorist targets."

Holidaymakers - not just those planning to visit Turkey - are advised to check the website regularly for updates. The FCO lists more than 23 countries containing areas that should be avoided, including parts of Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is also a shorter list of countries you should visit only if it is absolutely essential, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Travelling against the Foreign Office's advice is not a good idea, as it invalidates your insurance cover. However, British holidaymakers injured by the bombing in Istanbul will be covered by their insurer, according to a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) - even though most policies don't specifically state this in their small print.

"Insurers would look to deal with the claims of those who have been injured, despite the fact that most policies have a war and terrorism exclusion clause," says Malcolm Tarling at the ABI.

He advises those who have booked a holiday to Turkey to contact their insurer to find out where they stand if they decide to cancel or postpone their travel arrangements.

The Association of British Travel Agents says its members will offer those visiting Istanbul the opportunity to rearrange their trip. Alternatively, they may be able to claim a refund. But travellers to Turkish coastal resorts won't be able to reschedule or claim a refund.

The FCO warns all holidaymakers to be "aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks in all countries of the world" and advises them to be vigilant in public places.

For FCO travel advice, call 0870 606 0290 or go to www.fco.gov.uk

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