Australian travellers have been advised to “reconsider your need to travel” to and through Turkey’s big cities, Ankara and Istanbul due to the heightened threat of terrorism.
The updated advice from the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs (DFAT) published on the SmartTraveller.gov.au website on Thursday, just weeks ahead of the annual Anzac Day pilgrimage to Gallipoli, reads in part:
“We continue to receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Turkey which could take place at any time. Further attacks in urban centres are expected. We now advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Ankara and Istanbul due to the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Turkey overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of Turkey.”
See the full DFAT advice for Turkey, here
The upgraded warning does not apply to Gallipoli and the surrounding area itself, and Anzac Day services are scheduled to go ahead as planned. However, travellers are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in Turkey overall.
Most travellers to the Anzac Day services at Gallipoli, though, will have to transit through the travel hubs of Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul, and capital city, Ankara.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop said that while Anzac Day services are going ahead, travellers to the event should spend as little time in Istanbul and Ankara as possible and urged them to avoid high profile tourist areas in the cities.
Ms Bishop said the decision to upgrade the warning so close to Anzac Day was not taken lightly.
“I am conscious of the effect of this on the many Australians planning to attend this year’s Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli. The Australian government is not aware of any specific threat to Anzac Day services planned on the Gallipoli Peninsula or to other Australian interests in Turkey,” she said.
The heightened warning follows a series of bombings in Istanbul and Ankara this year, killing 80 people and wounding many others.
The Anzac Day Dawn Service commemorations take place on 25 April each year at the site of the infamous World War 1 Gallipoli landings.