The Australian and Turkish governments have accused tour operators of misleading travellers by continuing to advertise cruises that offer access to the Gallipoli Peninsula for the Anzac Day dawn service next year, marking the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings.
The Turkish government has also told Fairfax Media no cruise ships will be able to anchor within sight of the Anzac battlefields, despite claims from some operators their passengers will be able to watch the service from just off the beach.
The entire Gallipoli Peninsula will be closed and swept by Turkish soldiers to ensure no one but the 10,500 Australian and New Zealand ballot winners and official guests will gain access.
The Australian government has taken to task a Christian travel company for advertising that it is still waiting for authorities to ‘‘finalise arrangements’’ for the 2015 services on Gallipoli.
Inter Faith Travel, a Brisbane-based company, claims on its internet brochure that travellers who join its cruise, led by evangelist and former politician the Reverend Dr Gordon Moyes, ‘‘will be in Anzac Cove to view the dawn service through the eyes of the Anzac’s (sic) landing’’.
In small print, it advises that only those who have won a ballot ticket will be able to attend the service on shore, and further small print says other passengers will be able to watch proceedings on board their ship anchored 250 metres off the beach.
Military History Tours has a cruise arranged in conjunction with News Corp newspapers, and its promotional material promises ‘‘we will be ashore at Dawn on ANZAC Day with all onboard attending a 100th Anniversary Service’’. It adds ‘‘we cannot confirm the programme and timings at this stage. During the course of this day, we will allow time for individuals to lay wreaths etc., either at the cemetries (sic) where Services are held or at other cemeteries where you need to remember relatives or to lay a poppy or wreath..."
However, the Turkish embassy in Canberra, in a statement to Fairfax, said the only anchorage points would be at Samos Bay, about 40 kilometres north of Anzac Cove, and at Karanlik Koy, a seaport on the Asian side of the Dardanelles. All cemeteries on the peninsula would be closed.
The Inter Faith brochure advises - also in small print - that ‘‘as with all other tour operators, we are waiting for confirmation from the Australian Government and Department of Veteran Affairs to finalise arrangements...’’
A spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs denied this.
‘‘For a tour operator to claim that they are waiting for confirmation from the Australian Government and Department of Veteran Affairs to ‘finalise arrangements for the Dawn Service and Lone Pine Service in 2015’ is wrong as arrangements have been know for some time,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘Since 2010, DVA has been advising tour operators that they should not advertise tours to Gallipoli in 2015 that guarantee access to the Dawn Service or other commemorative sites."
One of the owners of Inter Faith Travel, Will Jansen, said he had been told by Louis Cruises, the Cyprus-based operators of the cruise ship, that the vessel would be able to anchor just off Anzac Cove.
- The Age