Mr Ali advises anyone travelling to Istanbul to "Get a visa before you go, as although there is a desk where you can obtain one from, this is slowly due to be phased out, as they are introducing automated machines, which have been installed to provide you with online access and will eventually take over the manned desks currently available. It is far easier to get one online before you go and cheaper, but ensure you go onto the official website, as there are identical fraudulent ones too."
Yousuf Khan, Partner at Kamrans Solicitors also travelled to Istanbul shortly after the London school girls fled the UK; he says "On my recent trip in March this year, I did not experience any issues on the way into the country and was not subjected to any increased questioning on my arrival. However on the return, because of my daughter, who was travelling with me and was wearing a headscarf, I was asked a number of questions regarding our trip. We were questioned at the check-in queue and were asked about the purpose of our trip, details of the hotel we stayed at and to provide some proof of the booking.
Our passports were taken away for a short period and then returned with a sticker on the cover showing security clearance. The officer who spoke to us was very polite and explained that these checks were necessary and apologised for the delay."
On Mr Khan's return to the UK the fleeing of British national's increased as three young males also attempted to flee to Syria via Istanbul. Mr Khan said "I can only assume that the scrutiny of British Muslims travelling in Turkey now, had increased. However, the increased scrutiny would not put me off travelling to the country again". The advice he gives to fellow travellers is to "Be open and fully cooperate with the questions, the security people have a difficult job to do, although it's important for the security of all travellers that they are allowed to conduct their enquiries without any unnecessary hindrance. It also pays to be polite and not to be rude or obstructive."
Two young boys, along with a third man, from north-west London also attempted to travel to Syria in March 2015. Luckily these boys were caught, stopped and sent back to the UK from Turkey. The trio had flown to Istanbul from Barcelona, but were luckily stopped at the airport in Istanbul after intelligence was provided by the British police about the two young boys. This shows that clear communication between countries can lead to the prevention of dangerous crimes.
The two cases highlight that although the young girls were successful in fleeing, the young boys were stopped and returned to the UK before any major damage was done and generally the fear of travelling to Istanbul is not high amongst tourists. People still travel to the great city and indulge in all of its delights without feeling hesitant or reluctant.