Voices From the Field is a space for the benefit of our members to build awareness within our global community. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily ATTA’s, nor do we endorse them by their publication.
Dear ATTA Friends & Colleagues,
We are going through the worst times of our lives in Türkiye. There are many lessons to learn, much work to do and a lot to bring to account.
I would like to thank the global adventure travel community and ATTA in particular for their quick response to raise attention for solidarity with us here in Türkiye. The best way to heal from such a trauma is to feel the presence of friends and colleagues on your side.
Now is the time to support the survivors and help reconstruct their lives. In this respect I would like to say a few words to my esteemed tourism colleagues and professionals.
Türkiye's tourism industry has been severely suffering since 2016. After several terrorist attacks, incoming tourism nearly stopped in Turkey for two years. It then showed signs of life in 2018, and in the second half of 2019, business started to come back. In March 2020, as we all know, the pandemic started. In 2022 we began to recover from the pandemic like the rest of the world, and just as we felt like the horizon looked promising, in February 2023 our lives were shattered once again.
In Türkiye, you need to study to be a licensed tour guide for a minimum of two years. Then you take regional training trips to complete your education and earn your badge. When the earthquake hit at 4:17 AM on February 6, there were five buses of guides plus drivers on the road, as new guides worked to complete their hands-on training under the supervision of experienced guides. Of the more than 40 victims, 30 guides and a driver lost their lives.
I personally knew some of them and know very close friends of others. This was a promising generation with multi-skills. Some of the guides in training were very qualified to lead cultural tours, while others were hikers, bikers, and bird-watchers.
In the wake of this great loss, I would like to share an important message with my colleagues: If you want to support a country suffering from natural or other disasters, the best way to help is to continue visiting that country and sending business. Many tour guides died, many other tour guides lost their homes and/or their families. We have assigned about 100 volunteer guides to help the foreign rescue teams from Istanbul who returned home traumatized and exhausted.
The only way to move on with our lives and help each other is to be productive and financially strong. PLEASE do not stop your operations to Turkey – especially now. Some partners or clients may think about cancelling their trips because they don’t want to have fun in a place where many people are experiencing such grief and sorrow. These travelers should know that they will actually HELP us by showing up and visiting our destination. We very much want them to come. To stay away does not help the earthquake victims or survivors.
For me, during this crisis I will shift my carbon offset dollars this year to helping my fellow guides and families. If you can spare some extra funds in any way to help us in a time of deep need, here are some options.
Once again, thank you for your support!
Owner, Hike’n Sail Turkey