After night of uncertainty, Ya’lla’s Turkey tours go on

After night of uncertainty, Ya’lla’s Turkey tours go on

While an attempt to oust Turkish president Recep Tayyip
Erdogan played out on Friday night, Ya’lla Tours’ guests waited in their hotel
rooms.

The Portland, Ore.-based company had 39 customers in Turkey
during the coup attempt, 14 of whom were in Istanbul, where military personnel
involved in the coup seized two bridges and gathered in Taksim Square. The
remaining guests were in Cappadocia and Kusadasi.

“The whole thing started at 11 p.m. Friday night and people
were already in the rooms,” said Ya’lla president Ronen Paldi.

Ya’lla staff contacted each party and asked them to remain
in their hotel rooms overnight, assuring them that they would be back in touch
in the morning.

Ronen Paldi

“We told them we are monitoring it and we will be in touch
Saturday morning, and we were,” Paldi said. “In the morning, the coup was over
already. The curfew was lifted, and it was clear that things were going back to
normal.”

In Istanbul, he added, Ya’lla’s clients heard noise and
commotion in the streets, but they were away from Taksim Square, where
protesters demonstrated against the coup and participants in the uprising were
later arrested.

On Saturday morning, “people woke up and had their breakfast.
We said, ‘Let’s continue,’” Paldi said. “The roads were open. Everything was
open.”

While none of the company’s guests in Turkey opted to cancel
their tours and return home, the FAA’s flight ban would have made arranging
transportation out of Turkey very costly, Paldi said.

“They have a lot of trust in our judgment, and they know we
won’t put them in any harm’s way.”

Paldi said Ya’lla’s upcoming tours to Turkey will continue
as planned, and that at the moment no changes have been made to the
itineraries. No guests have canceled thus far.

“The biggest concern is new bookings,” he added. “People who
have booked already, they will continue with their plans. But people who are
due to make new reservations, they are taking a deep breath and waiting to see
what’s happening.”

Terrorist attacks on the airport and popular tourist areas
in the last year have had a dramatic effect on tourism, Paldi said. “Let’s face
it, a coup in a country doesn’t happen every month or every year. It will take
time to recover.”

Ya’lla’s president himself is undeterred. “We are having a fam
trip to Turkey that we set up a month ago,” he said. “It’s already half full,
and I’m planning to go with them.”

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