Saturday, 19 March 2016

Risk Management

Risk: /risk/ n: The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen.  Risk is impacted both by the severity of the negative outcome, and the likelihood of it occurring.

Since taking up sailing we've had to become better at assessing risk.  My family and I have tucked everything we own into a fragile plastic shell floating in the ocean.  Each day we set out we must assess multiple variables and the risks presented in order to ensure the safety of our lives, belongings and dreams.

Will the wind be worse than forecast, will it come from a different direction?  Will visibility be good or bad?  Are the charts accurate or are there rocks lying just under the surface waiting to tear a hole in our home?  Will those clouds become a lightening storm?  If they do, will the lightening strike us?  Can we make it to our destination before dark?  Each assessment is an exercise in risk management and understanding the downside and likelihood of a negative outcome is critical.

Today we got to practice our risk management in a different context.  We have been planning a trip to Istanbul, with plans to leave tomorrow evening (March 20) and arrive in Istanbul for 3 days of sightseeing.  We had just purchased bus tickets when we saw the news.

Suicide bomb kills 4 in Istanbul.

Our thoughts and hearts are with those injured and the families of those who have lost their lives.  We're also standing in support of the average Turkish person, people who only seek peace and prosperity but are increasingly afraid to leave their homes.  Terrorism here is no different than if it was in Paris, London or New York and has shaken the country and its people.

So - in light of all this, should we go or not?  We began our assessment by assembling information.

It turns out that March 21 is the start of the Kurdish New Year and the Kurdish separatists in Turkey have promised violence throughout Turkey.  The Canadian Government has issued a travel advisory for Turkey, encouraging Canadians to avoid tourist destinations, public places, transit and the like.  We spoke with locals to get a feel for what Turkish news was saying and how locals felt.  Overwhelmingly we were advised against going to Istanbul.

Normally I would not change travel plans for the threat of danger.  We still plan to go to Tunisia this summer and are quite happy to be staying in Finike right now, but the very real threat of violence, the frequency of attacks in major Turkish cities and the advice from the locals served to push this one into the category of risk that I'd rather avoid than accept.

So what did we do?  We changed our bus tickets to take us to Cappadocia and will reassess the risk of travelling to Istanbul in a couple of days.

1 comment:

  1. My initial reaction was, just go! In thinking about it, I agree you made the best decision. If it were just your own government advising no, I would probably go, but with locals advising, I think you made a prudent move. I hope you are able to go sometime in the future as Istanbul is an amazing, beautiful city, and one of my favorites in the world.
    Ps. Also enjoyed your treatise on overall risk.