THE trade faces a further slump in bookings for next
summer after two terrorist bombs rocked the centre of Istanbul last Thursday.

The market is already thought to be 30% down for
summer 2004, but the attacks in Turkey, which was tipped to become one of the
top destinations for next summer, have come just before the crucial new year booking
season.

The suicide car bombings  – which ripped through the British Consulate and HSBC bank
headquarters – killed at least 26
people and injured around 400. British
consul-general Roger Short was among the dead. The explosions follow suicide
attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul that 
killed 23 people a week earlier.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now ruled out
all but essential travel to Istanbul, although operators fear customers will be
put off visiting beach resorts

hundreds of miles away.                           

Federation of Tour Operator director general Andy
Cooper said: “It is going to be very damaging, irrespective of how long the
warning lasts. Potentially, it could impact on the rest of the market. We asked
the FCO to make it clear the advice specifically relates to Istanbul, so
hopefully people will understand it won’t affect their holidays next summer.”

Thomas Cook director of mass-market product Simon
Robinson said the operator has between 1,000 and 1,500 customers in Antalya,
along the southern coast.

“It’s the last thing the country needs,” he said.
“Turkey’s a fantastic destination and it’s been doing really well for us. It’s
too early to take any decisions on capacity.”

Cresta senior product manager Ian Ackland said it had
taken Istanbul off sale for the next week. It currently has one party in the
city. Cresta was trying to secure a flight out for the group as Travel Weekly
went to press even though they had booked their flight independently.

Turkish ambassador to the UK Akin Alptuna said he was
confident summer business would not be affected, but admitted the country would
need to promote the safety of its beach resorts. “We do not think these attacks
will prevent people travelling. There are risks in every place,” he said.