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By David (Dudi) Yaron
About ten months ago, Israel’s Counter-Terrorism staff decided to reduce the travel warning level to Turkey for Israeli travelers. After a reevaluation of the current situation, the threat warning level to Turkey was lowered but it is still regarded as a destination with an ‘ongoing potential threat’. On the practical side the Counter-Terrorism staff is still cautioning travelers to avoid unnecessary visits to Turkey and if travel is necessary it advises Israelis there to take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
In the event a new influx of tourists from Israel to Turkey will take place, it is possible that groups of Israelis may revert to potential targets for attack in the future. In such a situation it is certain that the travel warning level will rise again to a more severe level, and Greece will return as a popular tourist destination for Israelis as it has been for the past few years.
Prior to the Israeli tourism boycott of Turkey, that country had enjoyed an extraordinary boom in tourism from Israel. A record high of over 30 million tourists visited the country, attracting the greatest number of tourists from Russia and Germany. Israelis were not far behind in the number of visits to that vacation paradise. In response many hotels and clubs some even spectacular were built in the Antalya region in recent years.
With regards to Israeli tourists it is important to understand that normalization between the two countries will not necessarily constitute a return to normalcy in the course of a day or two. Turkish leaders have already expressed their objections to moving forward too quickly, by suggesting a wait and see policy to see if the Israelis will keep their recent promises regarding compensation.
Those Israelis who could not bother to wait more than a few days since the first steps to normalization were taken have likely contacted their travel agents about renewing their vacation ties to Turkey. The numbers of such vacation planners will likely be limited. Turkey will likely renew their marketing efforts to bring about a quick return of Israelis to their country.
According to current public sentiment, a slow trickle of orders may take place, especially to Antalya, but that flow is not expected to increase in the coming days into a steady stream. Most Israelis continue to examine and look at the situation from the side. Only if the renewed normalization will appear solid within a few months and angers set aside and forgotten, will the unofficial boycott by Israeli tourists to Turkey come to an end. As in the past, the renewed flow of tourists to Turkey will likely be led by Israel’s large labor unions who traditionally organize group vacations for employees. That will be the sign for thousands of other Israelis to ‘re-discover Turkey’ and their all-inclusive vacation packages.