Great Potential of the Colourful Cultural Heritage of Turkey: Ethnic Tourism

Vedat Cali^kan


Ethnic tourism is a type of tourism in which tourists are motivated to visit a destination in order to learn more about the traditional characteristics and lifestyles of ethnic groups. As such, many consider ethnic tourism a subfield of cultural tourism. Tourists of this type generally search for exotic cultural experiences, including visiting ethnic villages, minority homes, and ethnic theme parks, being involved in ethnic events and festivals, watching traditional dances or ceremonies, or merely shopping for ethnic handicrafts and souvenirs (Yang and Wall 2009: 562). They want to learn more about the cultural assets of different local communities, including trying their cuisine or gazing over the places where their ancestors once lived. Ethnic tourism may also take place in the form of visits by the citizens of a country to their kith and kin in another country according to ethnic, religious, sectarian, kinship, and other social ties.

The term “ethnic” herein refers to a population or a community that shares certain cultural characteristics (including, but not reduced to, race, language, nationality, and religion) which, at the same time, are different from the prevailing cultural characteristics in the region (Albayrak 2013: 70). Most populations today are very heterogeneous—a reflection of the millennia of individual or mass migratory movements. It is only natural that many of these migrants or their descendants have the desire to visit the places from which they or their ancestors came. The tourists who travel with such motives are called ethnic roots-seekers (McCain and Ray 2003: 713).

Visits to religious attractions that are performed by the groups who have kinship and historical-cultural bonds with Turkey’s territory become prominent in terms of ethnic tourism of Turkey. As a result, various religions and sects having bonds with [1] [2]

the territory of Turkey, various holy places and religious ceremonies held here in Turkey are of great interest from the past. This form of tourism is similar to faith tourism. However, the principal objective of these tourists remains meeting with their kin and the religious structures or the religious mediate in the attainment of this objective. This traditional visit form of ethnic groups may ease their acceptance by local community, especially by ultra-conservative and ultra-nationalist sections. We should mention here that discussing about minorities or ethnic groups had been considered a taboo in Turkey until about 15 years ago. Turkey’s candidacy to the European Union required certain social and political changes in order to harmonize the Turkish legislation regarding ethnic or religious minorities with that of the European Union. Consequently, Turkey and Turks have become more open to discussions regarding minorities and minority rights. These developments have also contributed to the development of ethnic tourism in Turkey.

  • [1] V. gali^kan (H) Department of Geography, ganakkale Onsekiz Mart University, ganakkale, Turkeye-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2016
  • [2] Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_8
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