Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Bodrum in the News

I've been reading that hotel bookings in Turkey are down on last year because the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have featured in the media as dangerous destinations. "So have we" you say. Facebook and Twitter are full of irate residents complaining that the gutter press has it in for our glorious home and is trying to ruin our holiday industry for the sake of a sensational headline. Except the newspaper I am reading was published in 1991, the inaugural issue of Bodrum Halicarnassus Free Newspaper, the first English paper in the area. So if you feel Turkey-bashing is a recent occurrence, think again. Those of us who have been knocking around these parts for a while are quite used to it. It used to annoy me and as the owner of a travel agency, worry me, but now I see it as a blessing. If it keeps away the sort of visitors who believe everything they read in the Dailies Mail and Express, long may they continue to slag off the country. You only have to take one look at the comments on the online versions of these rags to see that you would never want to share a airline departure lounge or stretch of beach with these folk.
I'm glad I kept this little newspaper. It was my first step into journalism and as editor I had to write most of the articles and rope in friends to provide the rest. In the pre-internet age, it was an attempt to bridge the gap between the local Turkish newspapers and guide books. Just looking back 24 years puts into perspective how little the press really affects us and I hope it offers solace to those of you whose livelihoods depend on the foreign Pound, Dollar or Euro. I'm sure no one would suggest that the tourist industry in Turkey has been moribund for the past two and a half decades because of the mud thrown in its direction. Let's keep Turkey for the discerning traveller, who really appreciates the history and culture and let those who think Bodrum is a stone's throw from the Syrian border stay at home.




(Having said all this, vigilance is important, no one can anticipate where the next terrorist atrocity will occur. Whether you are in London, Istanbul, New York or Timbuktu, keep your eyes open. I was in a check in queue in Athens airport last week and a woman with a case came up to the Turkish couple behind me and asked them in broken English to look after her bag.  They agreed and she disappeared.  After a couple of minutes I asked them if they knew the woman. They didn't and I "suggested" in my school ma'am manner that agreeing to look after a stranger's bag was not a good idea.  Their answer - if it blows up,  it blows up.  Every time I think I'm a fully integrated member of Turkish society, there is always a little reminder that I'm on a different planet. )



17 comments:

  1. B to B, How wonderful that you were the editor of Bodrum Halicarnassus! It sounds like it provided a great service in the time before the cacophony from the internet which just about drowns out most independent voices.

    I'm really pulling for things to return to the point where there are no more 'warnings' from the U.S. or Europe against visiting Turkey. Right now, we have a friend on a visit staying in our place in Istanbul. He was also going to visit one of our two newest World Heritage Sites in Diyarbakır but now, probably not and I'm sorry about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a great shame that for some Turkey will always be "a dangerous place" . They are missing out.

      Delete
  2. I think I would worry a lot more about visiting the U.S.A.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The statistics would prove you have a reason to worry.

      Delete
  3. If it keeps the Little Englanders away then I'm all for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! I sat next to one on a plane back to Gatwick. 3 hours of my life I don't want to remember

      Delete
  4. Brilliant write up BB, and what a fabulous job you've done as the editor, that piece is a keeper - and I am with you 100 % - see you soon!:) Ozlem x

    ReplyDelete
  5. When all 'that press' stuff was happily being shared around on Facebook to show disgust - thus perpetuating the whole thing(!!) - we both agreed not to acknowledge any of it on the blog or social media and we didn't. Yeah we've got a lot of friends whose livelihoods depend on tourism and foreign visitors are down but we'll just keep doing what we do and happily for Fethiye centre, at least, there's a big domestic tourism market as well as lots of locals who are happy to while the nights away in bars and restaurants. It's quieter around here but ticking along, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do a fantastic job of reversing the negativity.

      Delete
  6. I read often but comment seldom, but I just have to say that piece really was spot on it every way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vicky - Thanks for you kind comments and if you are the vicky I think you are, I'd welcome your memories of the early 1980s.

      Delete
  7. Yes you are absolutely right. I'm on the admin team of a Turkey related group for tourists and am often dismayed (and thoroughly irritated) at people who have no clue about the size of the country...or in fact anything else about it. Those who are just seeking a pool, sunbed, and all inclusive so they can just spend their holiday getting drunk. If those are the people who believe everything they read in the gutter press then I also don't mind if they stay away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has always been thus - we survive.

      Delete
  8. I am visiting via Perpetua - We have visited Turkey every November for the last few years and I invariably receive at least one or two alarmist comments on my blog before we depart. We always visit different locations and for a couple of weeks a year Turkey's splendours delight and captivate us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is really good to hear. Rosemary. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Delete
  9. I have never visited Turkey, but certainly wouldn't take the tabloid press as my guide as to whether to do so. In fact I'd be more likely to do the reverse of what they say, such is my disgust with them at present over their coverage of the 'migrant crisis'.

    ReplyDelete