"If they meet and chat with an earthquake survivor, it will make them happy even if they wish to get well soon,” Gökşin of D Maris Bay, says. The Turkish phrase “geçmiş olsun” (pronounced getch-mish ol-soon) means the equivalent of "get well soon” or “I hope your difficulties will pass.” It's a kind way to express sympathy to someone.
Türkiye has 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and each offers a different lens into the country’s history and culture. Gezenoğlu emphasized that learning about the local history and culture can make people feel that the world cares about them. “If people have the opportunity to visit any of [those heritage sites], they may become more connected with Türkiye and the wider region. Such connections and bonds are much-needed right now.”
And still, as many people have lost work and much more, economic support is needed. Supporting local businesses is an easy way visitors can help people rebuild their lives and communities. “The tourism industry directly employs millions of people, not to mention the shops, restaurants, and bazaars that rely on tourism to keep open. Coming to visit Türkiye is exactly what the country needs right now,” Damon says.
Ways to help
Hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality groups have been offering relief to earthquake regions and survivors through partnerships and their own initiatives. The five-star Istanbul hotel Çırağan Palace Kempinski has sent truckloads of emergency disaster supplies like generators, wheelchairs, and baby food to the earthquake zone and is running a humanitarian aid campaign through the end of this year. The chefs from Istanbul’s Ema Bakery, Basta! Neo Bistro, and two-Michelin starred Turk Fatih Tutak traveled to the region and set up emergency kitchens to feed people.
Small local businesses and organizations are also pitching in with their own initiatives, so keep an eye out for places that are supporting earthquake recovery efforts and direct your spending there. “Many artists donated their concert earnings to the region, while others organized donation events and established large art funds,” Gezenoğlu says. "As cultural professionals, it is our responsibility to bring long-term and lasting initiatives to the region through the healing power of art.”
Salt Galata, a modern art museum in Istanbul, recently held a benefit exhibit with more than 200 works donated by artists and galleries and directed the proceeds to education for school-age children in the earthquake zone. Kurumlu points out places like Postane, a culture center that focused on social and environmental impact, easily fit into traveler’s itineraries for a variety of reasons: “You can go to Postane’s roof, have your coffee with a fantastic view, buy a souvenir from their responsibly sourced gift shop, and a percentage of their proceeds goes to the earthquake recovery.”
If you’re not visiting Türkiye, there are reliable organizations you can donate to like INARA, which relies on donations to provide targeted essential aid and mental health relief to children and families impacted by the earthquake in both Türkiye and Syria. International nonprofits like the US-based Turkish Philanthropy Funds and Relief International are still accepting donations. There are also local grassroot cooperatives like Topraktan Tabağa, a chef-run pop-up kitchen where you can select food items that get delivered directly to them through their online shop.
Cherish the sites you visit
People come to Türkiye for many reasons—the hospitality, the food, the beauty, the culture, but they tend to leave with one thing sticking in their mind: the history. Travel through Türkiye and it’s easy to see that it’s a land that reads as a history book; whether it’s the 10,000-year-old megaliths in Göbekli Tepe (the world’s oldest), the Hellenistic temple-tombs on top of Mount Nemrut, Cappadocia’s subterranean cave cities, the ancient ruins of Ephesus, or the Hagia Sophia.
But these sites also serve as a testament to impermanence: the February 6 earthquake will leave a notch on Türkiye's long timeline. It took down some of the country's most historic buildings, destroyed millions of lives, and collapsed entire cities, like Antakya—the ancient city of Antioch and one of Türkiye's culinary capitals before the earthquake. The underlying message of these things is always that you should see the world while you can, be a good guest in the places you visit, and to witness history with open eyes and honor those who have–or are currently–living it.