CBT Development in Goreme
The Goreme community’s relationship to tourism is very different from that of the majority of ‘conventional’ tourism situations, in which local participation is predominantly confined to unskilled and low-paid jobs, whilst management and higher paid positions are held by people from elsewhere (Mbaiwa and Stronza 2009). The Goreme community’s tourism participation differs also from tourism development patterns of other nearby Cappadocia towns, such as Urgfip, Avanos and Nev^ehir. The Tourism Encouragement Act legislation, mentioned above, which was enacted nationally in the early 1980s, created generous incentives for private tourism investment and also annulled previous prohibition of foreign companies acquiring real estate. In Cappadocia and in particular in the town of Urgfip situated nine kilometres from Goreme, consequently, national and international hotel chains as well as foreign tour operators developed large-scale tourism facilities. These developments constituted a rapid growth of ‘conventional’ tourism in the area, which Tosun (1998: 595) has argued took place largely ‘in the absence of proper planning and development principles’.
However, due to Goreme township’s close proximity to the Goreme Open-Air Museum site, Goreme was included within the boundary of the Goreme National Park and World Heritage Site area, listed in 1985. Along with the wider Goreme National Park, comprising a ‘moonlike’ landscape of giant rock cones, historic Byzantine churches and cave dwellings, Goreme township thus became subject to protection laws concerning the preservation of rock structures and houses. The protection laws also restricted larger-scale construction in the area, and so the larger foreign and national hotel chains were therefore prevented from building large hotels in Goreme. Hence, the developments of ‘conventional’/mass tourism, in the form of services for package tour groups, were restricted to outside of the National Park area and were concentrated in the nearby towns of Urgfip, Avanos and Nev^ehir. In comparison with those other towns, therefore, Goreme township remained relatively unaffected by the developments of ‘conventional’ forms of tourism in the region, and instead developed more ‘alternative’ forms of tourism, which involved a large degree of community participation.
Since the 1980s, a steadily increasing number of cultural tourists, both international and domestic, have visited the Cappadocia region, due to its being promoted as a centre for cultural tourism development. Whilst ‘cultural tourism’ is already something of an ‘alternative’ form of tourism in relation to the conventional forms of tourism that have developed around Turkey’s coasts, as already indicated the majority of the cultural tourism development in the Cappadocia region could be described as ‘conventional’ tourism in that (international) tourists visiting Cappadocia were doing so on cultural package tours and staying in the large hotels in the region. By contrast, due to the Goreme township being situated inside of the National Park boundary, Goreme’s tourism instead remained relatively low on capital investment and developed in a pattern of small or microbusinesses that were mostly locally owned (Tucker 2003). With its population of approximately 2000
permanent inhabitants, Goreme developed a reputation as an ‘alternative’ ‘back-packer’ place, with local people developing small accommodation and other tourism-related businesses that catered mostly to the independent ‘traveller’ market.
Tucker (2003) discussed these tourists’ fascination with not only the landscape around Goreme, with valleys filled with natural rock columns and cones termed ‘fairy chimneys’, but also the tourism image of local people in the Cappadocia towns and villages still living in caves. Seeing the visiting tourists’ fascination with the caves, the people of Goreme came to realise the value of the caves and the opportunity to sell tourists the chance to stay in cave-houses themselves. In the early days of tourism development, local people started offering accommodation in some of the rooms of their cave-houses, and the houses were thus gradually turned into ‘pansiyons’. In 1984, there were three locally owned cave-house pansiyons in Goreme and then, throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, increasing numbers of Goreme people became aware of the aesthetic and economic value of their cave-houses and decided to convert their family home into tourist accommodation. In addition, many of the older, crumbling cave-houses that were previously abandoned were reclaimed by the families who originally lived in them and were restored and turned into ever more cave-house pansiyons. By the mid-1990s, there were approximately fifty cave-house pansiyons in Goreme (Tucker 2003), and this number has continued to increase to there now being well over one hundred establishments. Almost all of these pansiyons have been developed and are owned by Goreme people.
In addition to the pansiyon accommodation, during the 1980s and 1990s, Goreme people opened many other small tourism businesses, including restaurants, tour agencies and carpet and souvenir shops, horse ranches doing horse-riding tours, and car, motorbike and bicycle rental companies. Local entrepreneurship has thus developed along with this small-scale level of tourism development, and individual entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial families have frequently gone into partnership in multiple businesses, offering complementary tourism services (Mottiar and Tucker 2007). Also, some entrepreneurs who initially developed a pansiyon business in their old cave-house later moved into other forms of tourism business and rented out their pansiyon, often to younger men of the village who do not have significant resources of their own. The operation of businesses is therefore quite fluid, forming complex partnerships and ties which change year by year but are nonetheless almost entirely formed by Goreme people, through kinship ties or friendship relationships (Mottiar and Tucker 2007; Tucker 2003).
As well as ownership and management of tourism businesses, other forms of control of tourism development by the local community have occurred through the community’s formation of two business associations, one amongst the pansiyon owners and the other among the tour agency owners. The ‘Accommodation Association’ operated as a cooperative marketing scheme through setting up an Accommodation Office in the bus station in which each accommodation establishment could advertise. Each establishment was given equal advertising space, with the aim of removing some of the inequality (and external control) created by the selective advertising in the key backpacker guidebooks. Both the
Accommodation Association and the Tour Agency Association also set minimum prices to prevent any pansiyon or tour agency giving way to tourists’ bargaining, thereby protecting the local community and ensuring that they received adequate benefits from tourism and business.
The key Goreme community organisation involved in tourism development and in the promotion of Goreme as a tourism destination is the Goreme Tourism Development Co-operative. This organisation was founded in the mid-1980s and, as a collective of which the majority of Goreme household became members, it allowed even those who had not become entrepreneurs with their own businesses to be involved in and to benefit from Goreme’s tourism development. The Tourism Development Co-operative first developed a souvenir, drinks and ice cream shop at the entrance to the Goreme Open-Air Museum. The majority of Goreme households have therefore benefitted from ever increasing popularity of this World Heritage Site, despite the museum being managed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and its heritage focus being primarily its Christian heritage of Byzantine churches and therefore not the heritage of the contemporary Islamic population (Tucker and Emge 2010; Tucker and Carnegie 2014).The Tourism Development Co-operative has also developed other shop spaces for tourism business rental, a Turkish Bath (used predominantly by tourists), and a tea house and snooker hall used by towns people during the winter months. The Tourism Development Co-operative also organises an annual food festival and cooking competition during the autumn harvest season in order to showcase local foods. In addition, the Co-operative has undertaken destination marketing for Goreme as a whole, producing posters and brochures, and the Director of the Co-operative, a local Goreme man, has frequently attended tourism trade fairs in order to promote Goreme as a tourism destination. Overall, the Director of the Co-operative, who is appointed to the role by the Co-operative membership, is heavily involved in the promotion and development of Goreme’s tourism.
Moreover, tourism planning and development is also conducted in conjunction with the directorship undertaken by Goreme’s Mayor, who also is elected and appointed by the Goreme community electorate. For tourism planning purposes, along with heritage preservation measures, Goreme township and the surrounding area are zoned, for example into residential and also business zones. The municipality office is responsible for managing these zones and thereby has significant control over the planning and development of Goreme’s tourism growth. It must of course be remembered that whilst the Mayor is the elected head of the local municipality, which then in turn amounts to community control over tourism planning and development, it must not be assumed that ‘community’ can be treated as a homogenous entity in discussions of community-based tourism. Inevitably, as well as there being local elites who have higher levels of control and benefit in relation to tourism than others, there also may likely be political divides along with other historic divides which render any community ‘unequal’ in relation to its tourism participation and benefit.
Further to this point, it is important here to refer to gender differentiation in Goreme. Despite urban women in Turkey gaining increasing levels of equality and participation in the workforce (Kandiyoti 2002; Sonmez 2001), Goreme and the wider Cappadocia region remain relatively conservative. Due to strict gender differentiation and segregation in Goreme society, tourism business and work has long been considered a man’s activity (Tucker 2003, 2007). Consequently, initially at least, women were not involved in either tourism entrepreneurship or tourism employment and indeed remained largely excluded from the tourism sphere in general. During recent years, however, there has been a sharp increase both in women’s paid employment in local tourism small businesses and in women’s own entrepreneurial activity associated with tourism (Tucker 2007; Tucker and Boonabaana 2012). A few local women now manage and operate restaurant businesses in Goreme, and a number of Goreme women operate small-scale jewellery and souvenir stalls and shops. It is therefore the case that whilst Goreme men are still the predominant owners and operators of tourism there, women also now are active participants in tourism businesses, as well as continuing to receive the benefits of tourism through their husbands and families (Tucker and Boonabaana 2012).