Alternative Tourism in Turkey

The Turkish government believes that, in order to spread the benefits of tourism away from the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts to other provinces, it must focus on niche forms of tourism that are based on each province’s individual attractions and resources (Pirnar 1996). This strategy, if successful, promises to foster social and economic development of backward regions and disadvantaged groups. Moreover, complementing mass tourism with alternative forms of tourism (such as cultural tourism) may better differentiate Turkey’s tourism offer from that of the competitors (Okumus et al. 2012).

Two forms of alternative tourism have been specifically highlighted in the government’s document: cultural tourism and religious tourism. Southern and Southeastern Anatolia could especially benefit from these two forms of tourism, as they possess a very rich patrimony of cultural and religious structures and traditions, some of these being included in the UNESCO list. Turkey’s tourism strategy for the year 2023 has also proposed the establishment of seven tourism development corridors, such as Olive, Winter, Faith Tourism, Silk Road Tourism, Black Sea, Plateau, and Trace Cultural Corridors (Okumus et al. 2012). Moreover, a number of interior regions have high potential for the development of alternative forms of tourism, such as thermal tourism, cultural tourism, rural tourism, winter tourism, golf tourism, mountain tourism, yacht tourism, congress tourism, and ecotourism (Tezcan 2004).

One major impediment in the implementation of the government’ s plan would be the lack of adequate infrastructure to attract and accommodate Western tourists (Tosun et al. 2003); however, the government is committed to remedying this situation by building new roads, upgrading airports, and transforming restored historical buildings into guest houses and small family-owned hotels (Ministry of Culture and Tourism 2007).

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