Friday, July 4, 2008

Ecotourism in Turkey



This is an interesting article following our articles on Ecotourism in Europe and particularly in South Europe. Concern is growing absolutely everywhere and we are happy to share this trend with you ...




A great range of ideas, experiences and areas of expertise were shared and debated at a symposium on alternative tourism in the Kackar a few weeks ago.




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?
The 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.

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