Bahraini tourists shun Istanbul after protests
Manama, June 9, 2013
Bahraini tourists have been changing their holiday plans as a result of violent protests in Istanbul.
The city is one of the most popular destinations for residents, who have been switching to other parts of Turkey or countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Travel agents said while bookings to Turkey had not been massively affected, some people chose to change their break from the Turkish capital to Ankara following widespread protests amid plans to demolish Gezi Park in Istanbul.
"We are getting some people asking for quotations for packages to Turkey and then changing the destination to the Far East and Europe," said Al Gosaibi Travel tours manager Anand Krishnan.
"The most popular destinations include Malaysia, Thailand, Austria, Switzerland and Germany among others."
An official from Al Fanar Travel, who declined to be named, revealed some Istanbul packages had been changed to Ankara by customers.
"Also, the new booking ratio for Turkey is less than expected," he said.
"But so far we are still getting queries on packages to Turkey." The official said Turkey was the most popular destination among Bahraini tourists, but had been replaced by Far Eastern countries including Malaysia and Thailand.
However, Turkish Airlines sales supervisor Mohamed Ilyas said flights to Turkey were fully booked for the next month.
"No one has cancelled their travel plans following the news and we are still getting calls trying to book during this period," he said.
"For July, most people do not travel as it will coincide with the month of Ramadan, where people do not prefer to travel."
The Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, had reported last Tuesday that five Bahraini families on holiday in Istanbul had to be relocated as a result of violent protests in the city.
Controversial plans to redevelop the park sparked nationwide protests against the proposal eight days ago.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to press ahead with the plan to demolish Gezi Park, described as the city's last green space.-TradeArabia News Service