Turkey gears up for Adventure and EcoTourism

— from ricof3

I was sent the interesting article below from http://www.ftnnews.com.  It’s interesting to me, because the marketing for Turkey has always been, since I’ve been alive, in its rich history, richer culture, well placed geography, and intersection with the world’s major religions throughout time. (The famous Hag Sofia Mosque above is one beautiful example).  But now, the good health of seniors, in part, is inspiring members of the Turkish travel industry to consider more active options:

Monday, 16 June 2008 A great range of ideas, experiences and areas of expertise were shared and debated at a symposium on alternative tourism in the Kackar last week.

It was attended by around 40 government representatives, members of civil societies, representatives of the Turkish private sector and foreign journalists – the first time such an event has been organised in Turkey.

Why develop alternative tourism?

turizm-sempozyum.jpgThe private sector, the government and NGOs are all aware of the potential of the alternative tourism sector in Turkey, for different reasons but with the same aim: to develop the sector. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, both in the public sector as international relations manager of Turkish Airlines (THY) and the private sector through SKAL International, as editor in chief of the only incentive tourism magazine MeeTurkey (published ever 3 months) and editor of Turkey’s leading travel trade magazine New Focus Travel Magazine, Sevil Oren explained the process which led to her initiating the idea. “I could see where the world was going to go through changes in lifestyles, the changing profile of tourists, the third age groups getting healthier and wealthier but, by the same token, showing an interest in alternative tourism like trekking, culture and history-based tours, bird-watching, endemic plant and flower studies on the land, regional food, cultural heritage, sailing and ecological holiday villages. Added to which, I met Kate Clow while she was putting together her trekking guide “The Lycian Way;” what she was doing seemed very exciting for tourism in Turkey, especially as alternative tourism is the sector’s fast growing new baby.”

The Culture and Tourism Ministry is interested in diversifying the sector through investing in and encouraging alternative tourism (as set out in the Tourism Strategy of Turkey – 2023) and thus increase annual revenues. Last year the Turkish tourism sector, mainly through mass tourism, brought in over $18 billion and the ministry’s goal is to more than double that to $50 billion by 2023 by investment and diversification, mainly in the alternative tourism sector.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry and National Parks have yet to agree on what constitutes an ecotourism guide, and Karaerkek highlighted that to make some tours possible he needs to employ four guides: a KOKART guide to meet official requirements, a National Parks guide, a botanic professor to explain nature and a mountain guide to ensure the safety of the group. This is obviously impossible for a small group of 10 or 15 people, he highlighted, and emphasised the need for a specialised qualification recognised by all.

Journalists discover the Kackar

Prior to the conference, a group of foreign journalists spent six days exploring the Kackar, courtesy of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. They hiked to “yaylas” (summer pastures), walked through forests and along old mule tracks over mountain passes, spent nights in local villages and experienced Turkish hospitality firsthand (the “kaymakam” of Yusufeli organised a show of the traditional Black Sea folkdance, the Horon). One of the highlights was camping in the snow and then, with snowshoes, descending icy slopes past some lakes to Ayder.

The five foreign journalists shared a wide variety of experience acquired throughout their careers with their audience. Maes – a travel editor from Belgium – spoke about walking and bicycle tourism in Belgium, and showed how much both have added to the local economies of the areas through which they pass. Belgium, a country of 10 million, has 10,000 km of trails. Razetti, a travel writer and photographer from the UK, gave a talk entitled: “How do the people of the Himalayas benefit from ecotourism?” His pictures really impressed the audience, although they were removed from the direct experience of most of them. Nearer to home were the mountains and trails of Italy, illustrated in Ardito’s talk. He also pointed out that Turkey’s bear population is a potentially huge tourism attraction.

Scholnik – a travel writer from Israel – spoke about Israel’s walking route system, showing exactly how the trail network was created and is maintained and financed by the sale of maps. Israel has 6,000km of trail maintained by professionals. Scully, a travel marketer from Ireland, gave a very popular talk about the development of alternative tourism in a region of Ireland. Her explanation of the Green Box eco-marketing scheme was felt by all to be relevant to the Kaçkar, in that it has brought together both those who provide small village accommodation and service providers in a supportive network. Their standards, reinforced by training, have united the 130 participants in a joint marketing scheme, which is reaping many rewards, and will be extended through the whole country.

Have you been to Turkey?  After reading some of author James Michener‘s works, (okay I’ve read all of his works, and his travel experiences have inspired me since I was 21), Turkey is one place I’ve always wanted to visit.  I’ve been to Greece twice, and it’s only a ferry ride away, (and we lived in Iran for a short time when I was a kid), but I’ve never made the trip.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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One Comment on “Turkey gears up for Adventure and EcoTourism”

  1. Hehe I’m literally the only comment to this incredible post!

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