The Challenges on Sustainability of Alternative Forms of Tourism

Ferhan Gezici and Guliz Salihoglu


According to the WTO, the number of tourists has increased from 438 million in 1990 to 1135 million in 2014 (WTO 2015). Therefore, the increasing number of tourists has created a huge demand on tourism destinations. In addition to the conventional destinations, new destinations have sprung up in the tourism market. Also, destinations which have already been in the tourism market are faced with sustainability issues due to the negative impacts of mass tourism. Furthermore, in the recent decades, tourism has shifted from being a traditional vacation approach such as recreation on a coastal area, to an active approach of learning more about different cultures and to get specific experiences within the culture and nature of the destination.

The overall impact of the sustainable development in the world reflects to tourism destinations, therefore tourism studies as well. Mainly increasing negative impacts of mass tourism on the environment and the local community of destinations have induced the concern about the sustainability of tourism. Rather than just focus on economic growth, the approaches, which emphasize the local involvement and sustainability of all aspects, have brought forward the concept of alternative tourism (Brohman 1996; Bock 1989; Pretty 1994). Alternative tourism is conceptualized as an antithesis to mass tourism’s standardization of the tourism product, organization, and human resources. Thus, alternative tourism strategies put

F. Gezici (H)

Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Istanbul Technical University,

Istanbul, Turkey

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G. Salihoglu

Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Gebze Technical University,

Kocaeli, Turkey

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I. Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_20

emphasis on a small scale, local participation, and the preservation of cultural and natural values (Brohman 1995). Although alternative tourism has emerged as an antithesis to mass tourism, the sustainability of alternative tourism could not be guaranteed (Weaver and Lawton 1999). Tomlinson and Getz (1996) emphasize that small is beautiful but it is fragile at the same time. Therefore, although the context of alternative tourism has mainly emerged with an environmental awareness, it has become more concerned about the social and economic outcomes of tourism on the local people, especially in the less-developed and rural areas. Even as it is highly challenging, for the purpose of sustainability, a holistic approach has been proposed including economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism.

This paper aims to discuss the challenges on sustainability of alternative forms of tourism. The following section provides a review of the concepts and approaches to sustainability and alternative tourism. The case of Bursa and the tourism development process of an historical village (Cumalikizik) are elaborated in the third section. Since Cumalikizik is an historical village and located relatively peripherally to the highly manufacturing city of Bursa, tourism opportunities for rural areas and local development are the main focus of this paper. After realizing the tourism and alternative tourism potentials of Bursa, Cumalikizik was evaluated as an alternative tourism destination, mainly considering its cultural heritage, natural values, and rural characteristics. Therefore, the paper answers the following questions: How Cumalikizik became a destination; what are its breaking points and which stakeholders have taken a leading role in the development process; and what the main challenges of sustainability are. For the sustainability of tourism in Cumalikizik, an integrated approach with the combination of culture, nature, and rural tourism has been proposed, whereas the local development is at the center of these relations.

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