Is Turkey safe to travel to? Foreign Office issues new warnings as cases of Salmonella rise and adventure tourism 'dangerous' after jeep safari accidents

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The Foreign Office has issued new travel warnings for Turkey as cases of Salmonella has risen and adventure tourism branded “dangerous” after accidents

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for UK holidaymakers who are heading to the popular holiday destination Turkey. The government updated its Turkey travel warning on Friday (17 May), updating its information on visa requirements, customs rules, outdoor activities and adventure tourism, and health.

It comes after the government recently warned of "all but essential travel" in certain parts of the country. The FCDO issued advice against "all but essential travel" to the two specific areas in the country. It warns: "The FCDO advises against all travel to within 10km of the border with Syria due to fighting and a heightened risk of terrorism. Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, roads in Hatay Province leading towards the border may be subject to closure.”

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There are also three areas that the Foreign Office lists as places to avoid at all costs. These include the Sirnak city, Hakkari Province as well as anywhere along the border of Turkey and Syria.

For visa requirement information for Turkey, the Foreign Office says: “ You can visit Turkey without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, for business or tourism. If you want to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days, you must get a short-term residence permit before the end of your stay.” It adds that the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has information on applying for a visa.

The Foreign Office has issued new travel warnings for Turkey as cases of Salmonella has risen and adventure tourism branded “dangerous” after accidents. (Photo: Getty Images)The Foreign Office has issued new travel warnings for Turkey as cases of Salmonella has risen and adventure tourism branded “dangerous” after accidents. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Foreign Office has issued new travel warnings for Turkey as cases of Salmonella has risen and adventure tourism branded “dangerous” after accidents. (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The government has updated information about custom rules, warning that there are “strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Turkey.” Some goods are prohibited including controlled drugs, firearms, offensive weapons, for example flick knives and self-defence sprays, endangered animal and plant spices and indecent and obscene material.

Some items are restricted, with precise limits on the volume of goods you can take into Turkey. These include: goods subject to excise duty such as tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol (including wines and spirits), cosmetics, high-value electricals, some foodstuffs, including tea, coffee, meat, and dairy products. You must declare anything that may be prohibited, or you believe may subject to any tax or duty. 

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The Turkish Ministry of Trade has full guidance for travellers and further information and guidance on customs procedures. As outdoor activities and excursions are becoming increasingly popular in holiday destinations, the Foreign Office has issued a warning regarding this for Turkey.

Recently it added that holidaymakers will need “specific travel insurance to cover quad biking” and “if you hire a moped you need a valid driving licence with at least category A1 - ‘light motorcycle’.” Now, it has updated the guidance to include advice on jeep safaris after “there were a number of reported accidents in 2023”.

It says: “Jeep safaris can be dangerous. If you join a jeep safari, make sure you use a reputable company who have adequate health and safety procedures and equipment. Always check that such activities are covered by your insurance.”

If you would like to do a water sport in the country you must make sure the paperwork is completed, ask for a safety demonstration, and make sure you know how to call for help. The Foreign Office adds: “If you do an extreme sport, check that adequate safety precautions are in place. British nationals have been injured and killed doing extreme sports.

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“Make sure you are given full instructions and training before your activity. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for all activities you do.”

At least eight weeks before your trip to Turkey, the Foreign Office advises holidaymakers to check the latest vaccine recommendations for Turkey and see where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page. It also says to see what health risks you’ll face in Turkey, including biting insects and ticks, and malaria.

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Turkey with the government advising travellers to read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro. The UK Health Security Agency has also detected an increase in gastrointestinal infections in travellers returning from Turkey, with over 200 cases of Salmonella detected since the beginning of 2023. It advises holidaymakers to see advice on food and water hygiene.

The new warnings come after updated advice regarding health, wildfires, crime, outdoor activities and adventure tourism. It warns that there have been “reports of tourists being encouraged to submit a claim for personal injury if they have experienced gastric illness in Turkey”. The Foreign Office adds: “Only make a claim if you have genuinely suffered from injury or illness. If you make a false or fraudulent claim, you may face legal proceedings in the UK or Turkey.”

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It also warns that smoking is “illegal on public transport and in all indoor workplaces and public places”, “do not approach stray dogs”. It adds that if you are bitten you should “get medical advice immediately.”

The government is also warning that wildfires “happen frequently” in Turkey “during summer”, and “you could get a fine or prison sentence for lighting a fire of any kind or discarding cigarettes in  risk areas such as woodland.” It adds: “If there is a wildfire in your area, local authorities may tell you to leave your accommodation. Follow the directions of local authorities.”

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