Introducing the Chapters in Part I
The development of tourism in Turkey cannot be divorced from the global context discussed above, although some characteristics and contributing factors may be original. Chapter 2 (by Medet Yolal) summarizes the main steps in the development of Turkey’s tourism sector, emphasizing the role of the government and that of the foreign investors in shaping the geography of tourism development in Turkey. Yolal distinguishes two distinct periods in the history of tourism development in Turkey. Some initiatives to boost international tourism were made by the government before the 1980s, but these were rather shallow, and the number of international tourists, although rising, remained low. It was not until the Tourism Encouragement Law came into effect in 1982 that the number of international tourists really started to take off. The decision for enacting such law should be understood in the context of the expansion of neoliberal ideas discussed earlier. Turkey’s government provided numerous incentives to persuade foreign companies and individuals to invest in the development of Turkey’s mass tourism sector. Turkey has also invested heavily in developing the infrastructure in the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal areas and in training the personnel to be employed by the tourism sector. However, Yolal argues that although protection of the natural environment and of the local cultural values was included in the five-year development plans starting with the late 1980s, the priority of the government was clearly to increase the number of tourists and the country’s revenue.
Mass tourism has both positive and negative impacts, but the negative impacts have been featured far more prominently in the literature (Marson 2011). In Chap. 3, Istvan Egresi critically examines the negative impacts of mass tourism development on Turkey’s coastal areas. He concludes that tourists consume more vital resources, such as water and energy, and generate more waste than local people. Moreover, the construction of tourism infrastructure has strongly impacted the local coastal ecosystems. The author also found that mass tourism development has increased the development gap between the more developed coastal provinces and the less economically developed provinces in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Major inequalities also exist in the coastal communities. Tourism development mainly benefited big investors, most of them non-local, while the local people had to be content with seasonal, part-time, low-skilled, and low-paying jobs. Most of those who prospered are outsiders, whereas local people have, in general, remained low-wage earners [which confirms findings by Bramwell (2004) and others]. In fact, the extant literature shows that locals rarely benefit from tourism development and are generally excluded from the general planning and decision-making process (Reid 2003), leading to the conclusion that mass tourism may not be the best method to support local economic development (Poon 1993; Dieke 2011).