(CNN) — Almost a month has passed since the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria that killed thousands and injured many more.
The strong impact of the earthquake, and the aftershocks that followed, have sown doubts in many travelers who planned to visit the country in the coming days, weeks or even months.
Turkey, which has been in a state of national emergency for three months, is a major tourist destination with 44.6 million foreigners visiting in 2022, according to local government statistics.
Many of the potential visitors would have come to the main tourist centers and cities, especially the most popular coastal destinations for winter sunbathing.
The earthquake struck near the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, at about 4:17 am local time on February 6, causing the collapse of more than 6,000 buildings.
Although international travelers have been asked to avoid visiting the affected areas, arrivals at major tourist destinations — mostly far from the areas devastated by the quake — have been largely unaffected. However, inevitably, there will be some impact.
This is what we know so far.
What areas were affected by the earthquake?
Approximately 10 provinces in Turkey were hit by the earthquake, one of the strongest the region has experienced in more than a century: Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.
The ancient castle of Gaziantep, one of the most famous monuments in the Turkish city, was badly damaged by the earthquake.
The city of Aleppo, already devastated by 11 years of civil war, was one of the most affected areas in northwestern Syria, where more than four million people already depended on humanitarian aid.
Are flights to Turkey cancelled?
International airlines have operated flights to and from Turkey as normal since the earthquake.
Three airports, Adana, Hatay and Gaziantep Oğuzeli International, closed briefly after the earthquake. However, they are all currently active.
Istanbul Airport, Turkey’s main international airport, has continued to operate normally.
Turkish Airlines, the national airline of Turkey, allows passengers to rebook or get a refund for domestic and international flights to or from “earthquake-affected areas” on flights scheduled between February 6 and March 31, provided they have been booked before February 9, 2023.
How will it affect tourists?
There are no indications that travel to Turkey’s main tourist destinations has been affected, and most can receive visitors as normal.
Ali Kutuk of Likya Nature Travelan Antalya-based travel agency that offers trekking tours, told CNN Travel it had had only one group booking cancellation so far, and one rebooking as a result of the earthquake.
“We have had some impact on recent travel,” he says, before stressing that he does not expect the situation to affect summer bookings and that locals continue to make travel plans within the country. “I still have reservations for the summer.”
Antalya is about 594 kilometers by plane from the city of Gaziantep, in the earthquake zone. Istanbul is about 850 kilometers away. Other major tourist destinations such as Cappadocia, Canakkle, Bodrum and Marmaris are also far from the affected areas.
What are the current recommendations for international travelers?
Although several governments, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have urged travelers to avoid quake-affected areas, visitors are not advised to leave unaffected areas of Turkey at this time.
Should tourists visit Turkey now?
Most of Turkey’s major tourist destinations continue to receive visitors. For many in the country, the recent earthquake has made it even more imperative that people continue to travel to unaffected areas for vacations.
Many people in Turkey depend on tourism income and, after suffering the pandemic lockdowns in recent years, were hoping for a resurgence in visitor numbers until the earthquake struck.
In 2021, the contribution of Turkey’s travel and tourism sector to GDP was US$59.3 billion, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
According to the World Bank, the earthquakes have caused about US$34 billion worth of direct damage in Turkey.
What can I do to help the earthquake victims?
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched two emergency appeals for a total value of 200 million Swiss francs (about US$214 million) to help with relief efforts in both countries.
There are many other organizations that are also responding on the ground. Can you help by clicking here.