Introducing the Chapters
Part III (assessing alternative tourism) includes six chapters. This chapter has aimed at providing the basics for the understanding of two widespread claims in the literature that are debated in the following chapters: alternative tourism as a form of post-Fordism and alternative tourism as sustainable tourism.
In Chap. 18, Pieter Terhorst and Hilal Erkus-Ozturk rebuff the widely held view that the Fordist model of mass tourism is being slowly transformed into one of flexible specialization. They argue that, in many touristic places today, the tourism production model is too complex to fit into either of the two categories. In many places, the two may in fact coexist in a variety of different combinations and forms. Terhorst and Erkus-Ozturk also disagree with the commonly held view that mass tourism, as part of the Fordist model, is necessarily very rigid and very resistant to change, while flexibly specialized tourism is always progressive and adaptable. Based on work in Antalya, an eminently mass tourism destination, they show that this city’s economy has not yet shown any signs of stagnation. Moreover, mass tourism there has been characterized by frequent innovations. Based on their Antalya case study, the authors demonstrate that mass tourism in Turkey does not fit the Fordist model. Because mass tourism in Antalya started to take off at a time when Fordism in Western Europe was already on the decline and, as such, could not benefit from a Fordist mode of regulation, Terhorst and Erkus-Ozturk conclude that Antalya’s mass tourism economy has become very diversified, meaning that it is characterized by a non-Fordist mode of mass tourism.
Ecotourism is considered by many scholars to be a more sustainable form of tourism because it is more environmentally concerned and because it is based on the cooperation of all stakeholders (companies involved in tourism, tourists, authorities, and local people) (Bjork 2000). In Chap. 19, Nazmiye Erdogan and Irfan Erdogan challenge this view and propose an alternative narrative. They point out that, owing to its smaller scale, ecotourism may at first seem to be more sustainable than mass tourism, but this does not automatically mean that ecotourism always supports environmental conservation and local economic development. In fact, the authors argue that the benefits of ecotourism are highly debatable. For example, Erdogan and Erdogan challenge the view that ecotourism is by default environmentally friendly. They demonstrate that, at least in Turkey, being in the business of educating tourists about environmental conservation does not automatically translate into environmentally friendly practices for the companies involved in ecotourism. In fact, the authors argue, many hotels and travel agents have poor records in this sense. The authors also contend that, while ecotourism could certainly bring material benefits to certain local and non-local entrepreneurs, the claimed benefits to local communities have been highly exaggerated. In their conclusion, Erdogan and Erdogan expose ecotourism’s conservation and development agenda as “imagined” and “wishful thinking.”
Chapter 20, by Ferhan Gezici and Gfiliz Salihoglu, examines the sustainability of a particular form of alternative tourism taking place in small historical villages. The authors selected the village of Cumalikizik as their case study. Cumalikizik is situated in the province of Bursa, very close to the capital of the province and not far from Istanbul, two very big markets which most of the visitors originate from. Most tourism studies analyze sustainability from an environmental, economic, and/or sociocultural perspective. Gezici and Salihoglu propose an integrated approach to evaluate the sustainability of this alternative form of tourism in the village of Cumalikizik. Using an integrated approach involves the examination of multidimensional aspects of sustainability, including collaboration among stakeholders and participation of the local community in decision making and benefits sharing. The findings of this study are mixed. On the one hand, tourism development has brought additional income to the local people at a time when the community was confronted with job losses and with a lack of any prospect for economic and social development. Also, the historical settlement was revitalized, with many buildings being renovated in the process and the cultural heritage preserved. On the other hand, perhaps due to limited awareness, the local community prioritized short-term economic benefits over the long-term sustainability of the project. For example, while many locals are involved in the production and sale of locally made food and handcrafted products, some local shops also sell non-local, often kitsch-looking, products which negatively impact the image of the village and may, in the long run, inhibit the production and commercialization of homemade local products. The authors conclude that alternative tourism should not be automatically considered sustainable; in the absence of a proper management plan in place, it could be just as unsustainable as mass tourism. However, in this particular case study, better management of tourism development could curtail the exaggerations that have happened in the process and ensure the right balance between the promotion and conservation of the village.
One of the main criticisms regarding mass tourism is that the local community is not sufficiently involved in decision making and does not share in the benefits accruing from tourism development in their local area. Using Goreme, in the Cappadocia region, as a case study, Chap. 21, by Hazel Tucker, provides an in-depth examination of the development of an alternative form of tourism characterized by high levels of local community participation. The author shows that, while this community-based operation was run successfully in the early stages, to the benefit of the entire community, in time, some community members have achieved more success than others, leading to dissension in the community. Also, the community has lost a certain level of control of the operation to investors from outside the community. In spite of these minor deviations from the ideals of community-based tourism, Tucker views the Goreme case as a success story that could and should be replicated elsewhere in Turkey.
Chapter 22, by Fatma Gul Turanligil, argues that the sustainability of alternative forms of tourism should not be taken for granted and that sustainable tourism requires interventions and planning. The chapter aims to examine how state policies have affected the sustainability of tourism development in Turkey. The 2023 Strategic Action Plan, published in 2007, emphasized sustainability as one of the most important factors in Turkey’s tourism. The same document mentions alternative tourism as one of the new directions of tourism development in Turkey. However, the author criticizes the apparent disconnect between tourism planning which is done by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the effective application of these principles locally. Turanligil shows that this centralized tourism planning and policy making may create obstacles in the cooperation between local authorities and other stakeholders. Although, being closer to the events, local authorities have a much better understanding of the local impacts of tourism development, they have very little administrative power to change anything. This is particularly important in the case of alternative tourism since these forms of tourism tend to be more localized and there is higher expectation for sustainability. The chapter ends with recommendations for public policies that would ensure the sustainability of alternative tourism.