Cultural Impact of Mass Tourism Development

As already intimated, over the last 40-50 years, Turkey’s coastal areas have witnessed a construction boom. Hundreds of hotels and other tourism facilities have been built during this period, yet the construction of these hotels happened in a haphazard way (Alipour 1996; Tosun 2001). In the absence of comprehensive and integrative planning, these constructions did not follow the traditional or local dominant architectural style, leading to architectural pollution and what Cevat Tosun calls “construction site syndrome” (Tosun 2001: 295). For example, insufficiently planned tourism development in Alanya has resulted in the coastline being filled with ribbon buildings that are architecturally very ugly and are visibly out of place and out of scale when compared with the surroundings (Tosun and Caliskan 2011). Moreover, many old buildings in central Antalya, with a considerable historical and cultural value, are under threat of being taken down to make rooms for hotels, and as a result, the city has begun to lose its cultural identity (Kaya and Smardon 2000). Further, a number of archeological sites were seriously damaged during the process of tourism development in Side (Gezici 2006).

Many mass tourists are no longer content with sitting idly on the beach. They want to visit around and get a glimpse of the local culture. To satisfy their curiosity, many restaurants, hotels, clubs, and bars hire artists to present folk music, dances, and local traditions. Because these establishments are driven by profit, they do not want to spend a lot of money in the process, and consequently, they do not always hire well-trained, professional performers; as a result, cultural values are mutilated and destroyed (Eroglu 1995; cited in Tosun 2001: 297). Moreover, many local traditions are presented to tourists in a distorted way. Tosun (2001: 297) reports on an event that he witnessed personally, in which a circumcision was presented in such a way that it scared the boys that were about to undergo the procedure.

Another problem mentioned in the literature is that many handcrafted items that are presented as traditional are actually made elsewhere, with non-local materials. This practice damages the image of the local community (Tosun 2001: 297; see also Chap. 20 by Gezici and Salihoglu in this book).

We could conclude from here that while local culture may constitute the main tourism resource in an area, it “should not be manipulated or exploited particularly as an instrument for tourism development” (Tosun 2001: 297). Due to overcommercialization, tourists may acquire a distorted image of the local culture and the local community (Tosun 2002: 235).

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