LONDON -- Turkish tourism officials are formulating a marketing
strategy to counter the negative publicity generated by the
earthquakes that have hit the country in recent months.
A spokesman for the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies told
Travel Weekly during World Travel Market here that Turkish
officials, including the minister of tourism and the head of the
Turkish Tourist Office, are meeting in Ankara to discuss
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that the country was jittery as
seismologists have predicted that another quake near Istanbul was
"But we don't know if this will be tomorrow or in 100 years.
What we want to show the world now is that we'll be ready for it
with buildings that meet international codes," he said.
The spokesman pointed out that nearly a dozen major earthquakes
occur around the world each year, and that people don't stop
visiting cities like San Francisco just because they are near major
"The point is, we are learning from our mistakes, such as sloppy
building inspection, and the government is very obviously taking
measures to ensure the safety of people in and around
He echoed comments made by Turkish suppliers here when he said
one of the country's biggest hurdles was convincing visitors that
no tourist sites or hotels were damaged by the quakes.
The August earthquake in Izmit, about 60 miles east of Istanbul,
registered a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter scale and killed an
estimated 17,000 people in mostly poor areas, where construction
did not meet required building codes. Another quake last week in
Duzce, 80 miles east of Istanbul, reached a magnitude of 7.2 on the
Richter scale and resulted in the deaths of more than 500.
"The hotels in Istanbul were built under strict international
codes; that's why they were not and will not be damaged by the
earthquakes," the spokesman said.
"At the same time, our monuments that have stood for centuries
were untouched by the earthquakes. Of course, there is nothing we
can do to prevent earthquakes, but we do need to reach out to
agents and operators overseas and explain to them that the country
remains the same as it has been [before the earthquakes] for
Along these lines, a new advertising push will be announced at
the end of the month that will "substantially increase our
marketing budget and road shows," he said.
The spokesman estimated that the August earthquake resulted in a
loss of $150 million in tourism dollars, accounting for about
300,000 visitors, mostly from Europe.
"With this second quake, the loss will not be as bad because we
are going into the winter season when we have fewer tourists."
A $9 billion industry, Turkish tourism relies heavily on its
European-dominated resorts in the Antalya region, which is about
250 miles southeast of Istanbul, far away from the earthquake
Nonetheless, some groups stayed away or canceled their trips
following the last quake, the spokesman said. "Fortunately, most
travelers have short memories, and if all goes smoothly, we will
recover next year," he said.