April 25 has special significance for many Australians and New Zealanders who make the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli Cove in Turkey every year to pay respects to the Anzac and Turkish soldiers who fought and died in the legendary WW1 battle in 1915. From the emotional Anzac Day Dawn Service to the often hauntingly-beautiful ridges, valleys and beaches, the opportunity to take a rare journey through time and retrace the footsteps of those soldiers who fought on the Gallipoli battlefields continues to be a powerful magnet for travellers.
Travelling to Gallipoli
If you have a battlefield tour on your bucket list, you need to know that travelling in Turkey can potentially have a dark side. The country was recently subjected to an attempted military coup leading to a State of Emergency and greatly increased police and military activity. Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport was the scene of a terrorist bombing and further afield there have been terrorist bombings and kidnappings associated with the ongoing conflict in Syria. In a nutshell, the situation in Turkey is far from stable and can change in a heartbeat.
This must pose a challenge for the Australian government which issues travel warnings through its Smart Traveller website. While Turkey overall has an ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’ warning in place, the advice has been stepped up to ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ to major cities of Istanbul and Ankara, as well as the Provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Mus, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sirnak, Tuncell and Van.
Interestingly, analysis of more than 30,000 visitors to the canstar.com.au travel insurance comparison tables over the past 13 months has found a strong correlation between high profile terror events overseas and Australians’ eagerness to have terrorism coverage as part of their travel insurance policy.
In the wake of the Nice tragedy in France in July, CANSTAR noted that the proportion of visitors specifically searching for a travel insurance policy that includes cover for terrorism-related event shot to almost 47% of visitors. In June the equivalent proportion was 26%.
When it comes to covering terrorism-related events, CANSTAR’s 2016 research shows that travellers do need to check the fine print. Of the 281 travel insurance policies rated by CANSTAR in 2016:
|144 cover injury as a direct result of terrorism|
|101 cover repatriation as a direct result of terrorism|
|21 cover cancellation costs as a direct result of terrorism|
Realistically though you’re much more likely to have to claim on your travel insurance for a stolen iPhone, or lost luggage than you are for terrorist-related event.
Back to Turkey and there is a ‘Do not travel’ warning in place for all areas within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria or to the city of Diyarbakir due to the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping associated with the Syrian conflict.
How does this affect you? The good news is that the Gallipoli Peninsula is on the opposite side of the country to the areas that have attracted a higher government security warning. Nevertheless, heightened security by Turkish authorities will be in force everywhere and visitors should exercise a high degree of personal security.
Gallipoli travel insurance
The need to pack comprehensive travel insurance goes without saying for Gallipoli-bound travellers. Even our government stresses the need to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. Be mindful, too, that if you travel to a country or region after the government has issued a ‘Do not travel’ warning, your travel insurance will become null and void. It’s imperative to check with your insurer that any areas of intended travel will be covered.
What does Gallipoli travel insurance cover?
Cheapest is not always best and in the case of travel insurance it’s really important to buy the cover that suits your particular situation. With a typical policy, you will want, at a minimum:
|Medical or dental emergency – hospital admission, emergency care and medical evacuation.|
|Repatriation – if tragedy strikes while you are away, repatriation covers the cost of flying your body and belongings back home to Australia. Some travel funds also include a separate sum for funeral expenses.|
|Lost or stolen luggage, passport or other items – replacing luggage and travel documents is the most common claim for travel insurance.|
|Cancelling your trip unexpectedly – due to illness, accident, holiday leave being revoked, or a natural disaster at home or at your intended destination.|
|Legal liability – if you break a local law and need a lawyer/interpreter.|
The Last Post
Despite the dangers, Anzac Day travel to Turkey is likely to be the trip of a lifetime. Travelling with a reputable company on an organized tour may offer an extra level of security. It’s also important to research your travel insurance well in advance so you can book the right policy for you and have the peace of mind that you’re covered for your trip. It’s also wise to keep up to date with what’s happening in Turkey via www.smartraveller.gov.au because the situation in Turkey can change rapidly.