Sunday, May 22, 2005

Police to Conceal their Weapons from Tourists

Turkey that has achieved economic and political stability, and is also a growing market in world tourism. Twenty million tourists are expected to visit Turkey this year.

There is a tourist boom especially in Antalya and Istanbul, which are prominent tourism centers. The number of foreign visitors coming to Hagia Sophia, which is one of the most popular sites, increased four times compared to last year and reached 11,000. It is almost impossible to find accommodation in hotels in Istanbul for August, which will host the Champions League Final on Wednesday (May 25), the XXII World Congress of Architecture and the Formula 1 races.

Due to the tourism boom, strict precautions are taken similar to those in European countries. The Governor's office, the security directorate and the tourism sector often hold meetings in Istanbul, where one out of every three tourists visits, and make decisions about preventing any king of images that might affect tourists' psychology negatively. It has been decided in the meetings that police officers that earlier carried "MP 5s" will carry smaller weapons when patrolling. Police officers that are supposed to work in regions such as Sultanahmet, Beyoglu and the Istiklal Street, where there are many tourists, will conceal their weapons. Istanbul's vice governor Cumhur Guven Tasbasi stressed that the decision aims to present Istanbul's peaceful environment to the tourists. Tasbasi noted that Istanbul is a safe city in every corner and said: "the rapid increase in the number of tourists is an indicator of this. Incidents of purse snatching against tourists are almost non-existent. The police officers patrolling the streets also help tourists to feel safe."

(Source: Zaman)

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