ISTANBUL, Turkey – I know that the suspected terrorist attack on Istiklal Caddesi – a pedestrian street of shops and restaurants and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul – will cause some tourists to cancel their trips to Turkey.
That reality makes me sad for the tourists and for the Turkish people.
The tourists will miss out on seeing one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the Turkish people will miss out on vital tourism revenue at a time of inconceivably high inflation and economic woes. Among the G20 countries, Turkey ranks No. 1 for high inflation with a rate of 83.45% in September compared with a global rate of 8.8%, according to the Investment Monitor.
Even though terrorist attacks garner more attention and inspire fear, I believe that Istanbul is safer than most large cities worldwide, including my hometown of Portland, Oregon.
When the World Bank compared the homicide rates for 2020, Turkey had two homicides per 100,000 people, while the United States had seven per 100,000 people.
As Americans, we sometimes tend to view our country as safer than countries in the Middle East. Yet, the average American living in the U.S. is more likely to be killed by injuries from a gun assault (1 in 221) or a traffic collision (1 in 101) than in a terrorist attack in Turkey.
Certainly, after any terrorist attack, it’s wise to exercise caution by avoiding large crowds at major tourist attractions like Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, and Sultanahmet Square during popular visiting times. Going in the morning on a weekday might be a better option. On busy weekends, consider exploring Istanbul’s lesser-known neighborhoods and attractions like Balat on the European side or Kuzguncuk on the Asian side.
One of the many reasons that Istanbul is so fascinating is that it’s a city of contrasts. It’s both Middle Eastern and European. It straddles both Europe and Asia. It’s hosted multiple civilizations, religions, and empires through the centuries. Those contrasts shaped modern-day Istanbul in the form of religion, culture, history, and architecture.
I hope all of you will have the chance to see this remarkable city one day and defy the terrorists by coming for a visit. A trip to Istanbul is also a good way to memorialize the six victims who died in this tragedy on Nov. 13, 2022, and who no longer can enjoy the sights and sounds of a city that has been enchanting visitors and residents for thousands of years.