Social Problems

Turkey’s tourism strategy emphasized the development of mass tourism along the coasts of the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. To convince entrepreneurs and investors to start tourism- and hospitality-related businesses in these predetermined coastal areas, the central government offered them very generous incentives (Tosun 2001). By so doing, the government hoped that the benefits accrued from the development of mass tourism in these coastal provinces would eventually trickle down to other sectors and other provinces. However, so far, this has not happened; Turkey has not been successful in using tourism to stimulate the development of the more backward regions[1] (Tosun et al. 2003). On the contrary, the development of coastal mass tourism has contributed to increased inequality among geographic regions and social classes (Tosun et al. 2003; Gezici et al. 2006).

This does not mean, however, that local residents have benefited very much from tourism development in their coastal province or locality. In fact, tourism development in coastal areas has benefited mainly the investors in the tourism and hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants, etc.), very few of which were local. These outsiders were attracted to invest in the region by the government’s incentive program. Legally, local people were not prevented from taking advantage of the government’s incentives; however, locals had to overcome discouraging bureaucratic and financial barriers. Firstly, the government favored large investments over smaller ones. Local people did not have the required skills to manage large tourism operations. They also lacked the financial resources to open such establishments, whereas big (foreign and domestic) investors had access to better financing. Big investors also benefited from the help of teams of lawyers to navigate the intricate bureaucratic formalities (Tosun et al. 2003; Seckelmann 2002; Alipour 1996). For this reason, after the early 1980s, the small local investors who initiated tourism operations in the area (Tucker 2010) were quickly replaced by large, often foreign-based, companies (Seckelmann 2002; Tosun 1998; Yuksel et al. 1999). Today, non-local investors control most of the tourism operations in the mass tourism development areas. For example, 60 % of the capital invested in tourism development in Side came from outside the area (Gezici 2006: 452).

The main benefit of tourism development for the local people seems to remain the provision of jobs, but most of these jobs are seasonal, part-time, low-skilled and low-paying (Tosun et al. 2003; Seckelmann 2002). Moreover, in many cases, these jobs are filled by outsiders rather than by local, indigenous people. For example, in Side, only 6.7 % of those working in the tourism industry are locals (Gezici 2006: 452), and in Alanya, 30-35 % of the total employees do not live in the city permanently (Tosun and ?ah§kan 2011). This is because some of these jobs may require skills that could not be found locally; other available jobs, being seasonal and low-paying, are not considered very desirable by the indigenous population. For example, in Urgup, Cappadocia, the most unwanted job is that of a hotel receptionist (Tosun 2002: 235). This is because candidates were brought from elsewhere for the qualified positions, while the local people were offered only unqualified, low-paid, seasonal, and part-time positions (Tosun 2002: 247).

The indirect benefits of tourism developments on the well-being of the indigenous population have also been rather limited. Most of the revenues derived from tourism development are actually directed toward and administered by the central government. Only 10 % of the total general budget tax revenue is then transferred by the central government to the local authorities, and of this, 6 % is paid based on official census figures on resident population (Burak et al. 2004: 519). However, resident population in coastal municipalities tends to increase very rapidly, and this increase is not adequately reflected by censuses, which are recorded every 10 years or so. There is also a very significant seasonal population that is not recorded in the official documents but which uses the local infrastructure and services. To this, we should also add the tremendous growth in the number of tourists. For example, between 1981 and 1991, the number of guesthouses in ?e§me increased from 2 to 118 (Burak et al. 2004, citing local consultancy documents). Due to these reasons, urban infrastructure is always lagging behind (Burak et al. 2004).

The ever-expanding tourism infrastructure and facilities were created at the expense of the agricultural land (Kaya and Smardon 2000; Gezici 2006). In Side, entire orange groves were destroyed to make room for tourism developments (Gezici 2006). In Alanya, extensive olive and citrus gardens had to be destroyed to make room for hotels and second homes[2] (Tosun and Caliskan 2011). Many farmers and agricultural workers were uprooted from their land and forced to find other ways for making a living (Tosun and Caliskan 2011).

The numerous tourists, many from affluent countries, are driving prices up, making life more expensive and more difficult for the locals. Many tourists prefer to shop in local open markets for the atmosphere and lower prices, yet the tourists’ interest in these markets increases prices, making products less affordable for the locals (Tosun 2001). Also, sellers tend to pay more attention to the needs of tourists, ignoring the needs of the local population (Tosun 2001).

Another very important aspect that needs to be highlighted is that tourism development in the coastal areas has created a de facto segregation between coastal developments and their hinterlands, and between tourists and those directly working with tourists, and locals (Tezcan 2004). Many local residents appear to have lost the right to access public coastal lands (e.g., beaches), which seem to be reserved for tourists (Tezcan 2004; Kaya and Smardon 2000; Tosun 2001). At the same time, the increase in the tendency toward all-inclusive hotel facilities means that tourists have fewer reasons to wander outside the hotel complex, so that the small businesses run by the indigenous people benefit too little from coastal tourism development (Tezcan 2004).

In fact, in any mass tourist destination, we can notice the existence of two distinct communities that are visibly separated. The first community, close to the sea, consists of tourists, tourism investors and entrepreneurs, and second-home owners. The members of this community enjoy good infrastructure and services, although most of them do not live there permanently. The second community is made up of indigenous people and local civil servants, is permanent (members live there all year round), and is located behind and at a distance from the first community. The quality of the housing here is lower, and the urban infrastructure is very basic. The only relationship between the two communities is reduced to work; residents of the second community fill jobs in the first community, jobs that, as we discussed earlier, are low-status and low-paying and thus benefit very little the second community (Tosun 2001).

Finally, it was hoped that the contact between tourists coming generally from developed countries and the local population would have a positive impact on the latter. However, a study by Tosun (2002) in Cappadocia revealed that tourism development did not make local residents change their manners and become more polite. As a matter of fact, perhaps due to low education levels and lack of foreign language knowledge, more than 62 % of the residents surveyed declared that they had no contact with tourists (Tosun 2002: 235). Moreover, the study revealed that the impact has been rather negative, as it resulted in an increase in individual and organized crime, alcohol and drug consumption, sexual promiscuity, and a decrease in trust toward other community members (Tosun 2002: 247).

The legacy of uneven development, privatization of space, and social inequality caused by mass tourism development could undermine any prospects for more sustainable approaches to mass tourism (Bianchi 2004).

  • [1] To be fair, we should note that, more often than not, the development of coastal mass tourismleads to an increase in the development gap between the coastal and the inland regions, especiallyin the developing nations. Andriotis (2006), for example, has reported a very similar situation onthe island of Crete (Greece), where most development has taken place along the coast (stimulatedby mass tourism), while the interior of the island is still used mainly for agriculture.
  • [2] It is estimated that approximately 20 km2 of agricultural lands have been lost in Alanya alone totourism development (Tosun and Caliskan 2011).
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