The development of sustainable tourism in Turkey

The development of sustainable tourism in Turkey

College of Tourism and hotel management

- Why I choose this topic / why this topic interests me?

Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, which has expanded dramatically over the last 50 years and has become a global industry. ‘Although it has been underestimated until quite recently, tourism has long been a central component of the economic, social and cultural shift that has left its imprint on the world system of cities in the past two decades’(Dumont 2005). According to World Trade Organization (WTO) statistics, there were a total of 693 million tourist arrivals across the globe in the 2002. Moreover, WTO is forecasting that by 2010 there will be over one billion arrivals.

At the European level, tourism isone of the biggest economic sectors and belongs tothe largest key industries of the 21st century (Dumont 2005). European tourism accounts for 2/3 of global tourism (CoastLearn 2006), while the Mediterranean is the world’s number one tourist destination and the biggest tourism region in the world, accounting for 30% of international arrivals and 25% of receipts from international tourism (EEA 2001). Furthermore, the European Environmental Agency is predicting that the number of tourists in the Mediterranean countries is expected to increase from 260 million in 1990 (135 million in the coastal region) to somewhere between 440 and 655 million in 2025 (235 to 355 million in the coastal region). Turkey is European and Mediterranean country at the same time, where tourism is often seen as its economic future, since it contributes significantly to the GDP and the employment rates. Also, Turkey has joined the trend of a growing number of European cities and urban regions that are promoting the development of tourism in order to overcome the post-industrial crisis most of them are suffering (Dumont 2005).

This topic interests me, because nowadays Turkey is one of the most popular mass-tourism destinations, with it's growing number of tourists (for example (information is provided by ministry of culture and tourism of Turkish Republic. in 2006 the country was visited by 2905817 foreign people in august, in 2007 by 3384065 tourists, in 2008 by 3762136 people). Turkey is the destination to be developed, and sustainable tourism, ( the tourism that combines high standards of quality with environmental constraints, tourists and local residents in a friendly and stimulating manner which would prove to be a better way to conduct tourism all over the world, is the best type of tourism to be developed, it is self-maintaining tourism, which is solving problems without a harm to its surroundings. The World Commission of Environment and Development (WCDE) introduced the concept of sustainable development in the Brundtland Report in 1987, defining sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”.

 In this project I am going to investigate whether the tourism of today has bad influence and whether this bad influence can be overcome with the development of sustainable tourism/

- What is my academic background of choosing this topic and how I justify it?

As my academic background is Tourism and Hotel business, I've decided, that I am more familiar with tourism market sector, so this title has been chosen for this reason.

- Which people will benefit from my research?

Travel agencies and tourism companies, who works with this particular destination, will benefit from my research. . In addition, they can use my research for their work, because it will be very useful for all of them. What is more, tourists can take in consideration my research and start thinking what really they want from sustainable tourism in the future. On this way, they can help tourism managers to develop tourism and the hospitality industry. Moreover, I think that academics should pay attention for my project as well. Because they will know, for example, what kind of new technologies can be needed. Also, my assignment can be used by the students who will finish their education in nearest future and are planning to work in tourism industry. They can propose innovations in tourism in which they are going to work.

Planning the research

What I should think about, while planning my research? I should, firstly, set the questions to be answered, secondly, to understand how and where to find the information, and, thirdly, to think about the ways this collected data must be analyzed.

Statement of objectives and hypothesis to be examined

In my Research I will examine 2 hypothesis questions

= 1.Is the number of visitors growing as The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is focused on the development of sustainable tourism?

With its objectives:

+Examination of sustainable tourism in Turkey

+Examination of The Ministry of Culture and Tourism strategy

+Examination of tourist growth

=2. Is Turkey becoming a world brand in tourism and has the possibility of becoming the major destination in the list of the top five countries receiving the highest number of tourist?

With its objectives:

+Examination of the world brands in tourism

+Examination of possibilities and opportunities of Turkey to become the major description in the list of the top 5.

The limitation of the hypothesis question:

Time - as tourism in general is a very complex activity, and Turkey has been experiencing rapid development of tourism in the last 10 years, to make a detailed analysis of the tourism sector, its impacts and contribution to the sustainable development of the community, a lot of time is required.

Information accessibility- available information is mostly connected with the economic aspects of tourism, while the social and environmental issues were slightly or not at all accessible, although to describe and to analyze sustainable tourism information about environment and society is needed. One of the possible reasons for that could be the fact that Turkey is seeing tourism as its economic future, and it is still not aware of the interconnection between the economic, social and environmental impacts of the tourism. As a result, even though there are various impacts Turkey, only some of the impacts will be described.

Research methodology.

Research seems indicates a highly specialized, abstract activity, divorced from daily life, discovering and understanding the human environment.It is increasingly significant at all levels of service industry management. The informal, common-sense ‘research’ by which we form our individual, day-to-day perceptions of the environment is usually integrated into a whole range of other functions and activities, which do not need to be into words, or subjected to conscious analysis. Environmental observation often needs to be reported or recorded in management situations, but here again they tend to be only one component of management activity, seldom undertaken solely for their own sake.

Details of information/data collection method

The types of my information/data collection are going to be, mainly, secondary, they are books, articles, internet.

( “Data Collection is an important aspect of any type of research study. Inaccurate data collection can impact the results of a study and ultimately lead to invalid results”, so it should be gathered attentively, compared with each other, and provided clearly to be understood by the reader.

As secondary data has been collected for a different purpose to mine, it should be treated it with care. The basic questions I should pay attention to are:


Where has the data come from?

Does it cover the correct geographical location?

Is it current (not too out of date)?

If you are going to combine with other data are the data the same (for example, units, time, etc.)?

If you are going to compare with other data are you comparing like with like?

Sources that have been used to collect necessary information about Turkey in order to write this research were the Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Planning Organization, official websites of Turkey , as well as relevant literature and articles (some of them are in Turkish language) about the tourism.

Likewise, I have used a number of articles and official websites of the various world known organizations, such as UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), WTO (World Tourism Organization), UNESCO and WTTC (World Trade and Tourism Council).

Details of data analysis methods

I am going to analyze my secondary data with the method of observation, as it saves time and money since the work has already been done to collect the data. That lets me avoid problems with the data collection process.

Literature review:

Let's have a look at some previous researches that are related to my area of investigation.

First one:( )

Title: Sustainable tourism development: the case study of Antalya, Turkey

Author: Kaya, Latif Gurkan; Smardon, Richard

Date: 2001

Source: In: Kyle, Gerard, comp., ed. 2001. Proceedings of the 2000 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-276. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 222-227

This paper discuss ideas about how tourism can be made base for sustainable tourism development in Antalya, Turkey. (General Overview about Turkey: Turkey, geographically between east and west; developed and underdeveloped; unsustainable and sustainable, has a coastline. including islands, of 8333 kilometers. Turkey is bordered by four seas)

The introduction is a general overview of sustainable tourism development in coastal areas. The paper also addresses the role of NGOs in the course of development. Information is given about coastal tourism facilities in Turkey. Finally, sustainable tourism development in the case study area, Antalya, is discussed extensively as a characteristic region in Turkey.

In a recent analysis by Altaban(1997) this issue of growing demand was commented in the following way: “Starting from 1960s onwards the fast rate of the urbanization and increase of employment in tourism and other service sectors supported by an efficient highway network and well-developed transportation facilities in the western part of Anatolia, Mainland in Turkey, have stimulated increasing demand on coastal regions”(the objective about growth of tourist and the opportunities of becoming one of the top 5)

It was realized that the tourism sector could be very effective for solving the foreign currency shortage within economy, as well as support the increase of National income (Altaban 1998). This is an alternative way for the economic development of the country and the main target of planning has been formulated to increase bed capacities of tourist regions.

The second resource that was used as my secondary data is ( )“Tourism Strategy of Turkey -2023 and Activity Plan for Tourism Strategy of Turkey 2007-2013” dated 28/02/2007 and numbered 2007/4, has been approved by the High (supreme) Planning Commission, and has been put in to fence after its publication in “Official Journal” dated 02/03/2007 and numbered 26450.

The study for the Tourism strategy of Turkey -2023 proposes a variety of long term strategies in the realms of planning, investment, organization, domestic tourism, research and development (R&G), Services, Strengthening Transportation and Infrastructure, Promotion and Marketing, Education, Branding and City level, diversification of Tourism Products, Rehabilitation of Existing Tourism areas and Improvement of Destinations.

The vision of the Turkey is “with the adoption with sustainable tourism approach tourism and travel industry will be brought to a leading position for leveraging rates of employment and regional development and it will be ensured that Turkey becomes a world brand in tourism and a major destination in the list of the top five countries receiving the highest number of tourist and highest tourism revenues by 2023”

The introduced document provides some suggestions to realize the vision, such as creating tourism products based on tourist profile, to strengthen international cooperation, to help increase the competitiveness of the tourism sector through creation of regional tourism brands rather than relying upon cheaper products, so on.

The third source is the article, which was published on the internet on the November 10th, 2008 “Turkey Financial News” ( ).

It says that in 2008 Turkey has attracted 13.3 % more tourists , than during the same period last year. The largest number of visitors came from Germany , the RF and UK followed it.

 Data show that Turkey has become a top 10 destination country in the world for foreign visitors with the growing number of tourists visiting each year. The number increased substantially between 2002 and 2005, from 12.8 million to a record 21.2 million. If the ongoing global crisis turns out to Turkey’s advantage, its tourism industry can continue to be among the top 10 biggest in terms of revenue. By adopting a new strategy and new approaches to tourism, Turkey aims to become a world brand in tourism and a major destination among the top five countries receiving the highest tourism revenue by 2023.

Also I have translated some articles, written in Turkish, that helps to look at the problem “from inside”. As the news on the reports “...during the year of 2008 there were 30.929 million people, who visited Turkey, spending on average 708 dollars per capita “

In order to analyze the situation on the tourism market I have used some statistics and other resources, that help to understand the trends on the market I examine.

Here are some statistics from the site wikipedia

Top international tourism destinations 2007

Out of a global total of 903 million tourists in 2007, the following countries are the most visited.

Rank             Country  International tourist arrivals

1  France      81.9 million

2  Spain       59.2 million

3  United States          56 million

4  China       54.7 million

5  Italy         43.7 million

6  United Kingdom     30.7 million

7  Germany  24.4 million

8  Ukraine    23.1 million

9  Turkey     22.2 million

10  Mexico   21.4 million

n the newspaper “Today's Zaman”, published on Monday, March 03, 2008 it was said that Turkey has all opportunities to develop sustainable tourism. “Yılmaz told the press that Turkey could attain all the targets by acting in unity and solidarity. “We have to increase the service quality in our hotels,” he pointed out and cited the conference’s motto: “But everything is here,” which meant that Turkey had all kinds of tourism opportunities from faith-based to winter, health, golf, historical, etc. “Only the US and Turkey have 14 golf courses in a 10-kilometer area,” he noted.”


So, let’s examine the first hypothesis

Is the number of visitors growing as The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is focused on the development of sustainable tourism?

With its objectives:

+Examination of sustainable tourism in Turkey

+Examination of The Ministry of Culture and Tourism strategy

+Examination of tourist growth


( )

Turkey is a Eurasian country located mainly in the Anatolian peninsula in Asia, with a small portion of its territory located in the Balkan region of southeast Europe. Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the northeast; Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast.

It is divided into seven geographical regions: the Marmara, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and the Black Sea region. Moreover, Turkey is divided into 81 provinces and each province is divided into sub-provinces. Major provinces include Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Konya and Adana.

One of the most dynamic and fast developing sectors in Turkey is tourism. According to the travel agencies TUI AG and Thomas Cook, 31 hotels located in Turkey are among the world’s 100 best hotels. In the year 2005, 21 122 798 tourists visited Turkey. The total revenue was $14 billion with an average expenditure of $679 per tourist. Over the years, Turkey has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, often competing with Croatia, Greece, Italy and Spain.

The history of Turkish tourism

The tourism industry, being a part of the national economy, has attracted government interest and interventions in Turkey. However, tourism could not gain any significance or priority until the 1950s. With the developments in international tourism, the Turkish government started to deal with the economic benefits of the tourism sector in creating currency flow and generating new employment opportunities (Tarhan 1997).

Like the evolution in Europe, tourism especially the international tourism could not benefit any significance or priority for the Turkish government until 1950. “On the contrary, because of the war psychology, foreign visitors were taken with suspicion by the authorities and their arrivals tried to be reduced” (Tarhan, 1997:61). This period was the birth of New Republic and the efforts to set national policies, where tourism policies could not benefit so much importance. Therefore the first period was the years of 1923 to 1950. The initial studies of organized tourism activities took start within this period, too.

With 1950s government’s interest in Turkish tourism has started to show readiness to develop international tourism, and government understood that the tourism sector can bring the economic benefits in creating currency flow and new employment opportunities and with its being the modern means of development. Such an ever-increasing government interest in tourism industry has shown itself in various tourism organizations and institutions.

An important progress in that period of time was the enactment of the Law for Encouragement of Tourism Industry (Law numbered 6086) in 1953. The importance of this law was that it was the first attempt to set a regulation to administrate tourism facilities in accordance with a policy. The law brought a Licensing System for the tourism facilities, meaning these facilities were obliged to fulfill certain standards and service quality to obtain the Tourism Certificate.

With those requirements, it was aimed

• To reach tourism facilities to contemporary standards,

• To provide incentives i.e. a credit system for tourism activities,

• To achieve uniform standards for similar type and class of accommodation facilities,

• To introduce a new price control system for tourism licensed operations,

•To provide a checklist for new investors including necessary equipments, accessories and services needed at accommodation units of certain kind and quality (Tarhan, 1997:63)

As of the beginning of the 1960s, tourism’s employment creation and foreign currency earning features have become prominent. With the increasing share from the world’s tourism, the economic bottleneck was surpassed and tourism has become an important sector in economic development. In 1963, the Ministry of Tourism was founded. In 1968, The Ministry prepared the Western Turkey physical development study. In the end of the 1960s, tourism plans for some regions with priority were assigned to several foreign design offices. In spite of all these efforts, from 1960 to 1975, tourism investments remained at a very low level (Eraydın 1997).

With the aim to make investments to create maximum amount of accommodation facilities, which would soon increase the revenues as well, in 1963, the Turkish government put The First Five Year Development Plan (1963-1967) into force. To achieve the main aims, national parks and holiday villages were planned, tourism agreements with other countries were made, and market searches for tourism demand and supply were carried out (Olalı 1984).

In the Second Five Year Development Plan (1968-1972), the importance of national physical planning was stressed out. This plan had focused on benefiting from economic, social and cultural aspects and had foreseen the utilization of such functions (Aker and Serter, 1989). In 1969, the coastal region from Canakkale to Icel had been declared as the tourism development region to utilize the mass coastal tourism development (TURSAB).

As the following table shows, in 1963, there were 200 000 arrivals and 1 341 500 in 1973, which is if to count is a 570% increase in the period of 10 years. Tourism revenues increased from 7.7 million dollars in 1963 to 171.5 million dollars in 1973.

Table 1: Tourist arrivals and receipts of Turkey (in USD)

Source: Ministry of Tourism

At the beginning of 1980s, tourism was considered among the sectors of special importance for development and contribution to the Turkish economy. Since the Tourism sector in Turkey was relatively new, there has been the opportunity to preserve natural, cultural, historical and archaeological assets of the country. Contrary to some other countries which suffered from saturation, improper development, seriously damaging environment and many valuable natural assets as well as existing human settlements, Turkish tourism was prepared to sustain the balance between utilization and conservation and Ministry of Tourism determined certain principles when planning tourism areas (Araç, 2001; TURSAB), here they are:

 • The acceptable use of natural and cultural resources,

• Sustainable tourism development in high potential tourist areas,

• Creation of efficient tourism sector with high international competitiveness,

• Harmonious tourism related constructions with natural landscape,

• Meeting the need of foreign and domestic tourists and the resident population,

• Developing social tourism facilities,

• Extending the economic benefits of tourism,

• Continuous restoration and maintenance of the natural and cultural resources,

• Protection of the tourists and hosts against adverse environmental effects

 (Ministry of Tourism, 1994; Küce, 2001).

 After the 1980 military coup, many important legislation changes for a more liberal economy were enacted. Among these, the Tourism Encouragement Law of 1982, Environmental Protection Law 1983 and National Parks Law can be mentioned. The Tourism Encouragement Law gave higher significance to tourism investments and the problems affecting them. Specific issues concerning land use plans and use of state owned property were thoroughly handled. In accordance with these, tourism investments increased rapidly and concentrated along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, where almost 80 % of Turkey’s bed capacity exists (Küce 2001). In the next 10 years, the number of new establishments increased rapidly and in 1992, the bed capacity reached 219 940, while it was 65 934 in 1982 (see the previous table).

International arrivals accelerated between 1984 and 1994 by 206%, and in 1994, 8 million foreigners visited Turkey. Similar growth trend have also been observed in tourism revenues. Tourism revenues became USD 4.7 billion in 1994 with a significant increase to USD 840 million in 1984. In brief, it is clear that Turkey has experienced a rapid growth in international tourist arrivals, revenues, and bed capacity in this period.

With the beginning of 1990s, tourism policies had faced certain changes, which were (Tarhan, 1997: 66):

• Public sector participation was reduced and pilot and sample investment policy was abandoned and tourism investments operations of public sector were stopped. Existing ventures, state owned tourism facilities (TURBAN) were decided to be privatized.

• Government interferences on prices of private tourism operations were stopped. Operations were allowed to determine their prices themselves, and also to use their choice of currency unit for their prices. It was the beginning for wider use of foreign currency prices.

 Tourism investments operations in the public sector and government interferences on prices of private tourism operations were stopped. While the new investments at Southern and Western Turkey were not supported, the efforts for increasing the variety of tourist activities were emphasized (Turan 1997).

Between 1994 and 2001, the tourism sector in Turkey lost its acceleration due to the Gulf war, increasing terrorist activities and the earthquake in 1999. The fall of demand due to those events resulted in considerable price reductions. Consequently, the quality of tourist arrivals and economic benefits of international tourism decreased (Tarhan 1997). When it is compared to previous years, the increase in the number of tourist arrivals and tourism revenues were very low. In 2001, 11 700 000 foreigners visited Turkey, which was an increase of 11% from the previous year.

YEARSTourist ArrivalsChange %Tourism RevenuesChange %
200213 24714,58 4814,7
200314 0305,39 67714,1
200417 51724,8612 12525,3
200521 12220,5913 92914,8

Table 2: Tourist arrivals and tourism revenues 2002-2005

Source: Turkish Statistical Institute

The following bar chart shows information about the change in the amount of tourists that entered Turkey from 1993 until 2007. The chart compares the amount of tourists that entered Turkey to the amount of tourists that entered Turkey the previous year.

 Table 4: Change in the number of visitors on a year earlier (%)

Since 2001, the tourism industry has enjoyed an instant growth. Decreasing terrorist activities, intensive investments to the coastal region, political stability and better development policies resulted in a boom in terms of arrivals. The number of tourists who visited Turkey reached up to 14 million in 2003. The year 2004 also witnessed particularly strong growth, with the number of foreign tourists reaching significant 17.5 million. The revenues obtained from foreign tourists increased to USD 12.1 billion. According to the WTO, in 2005, Turkey had the highest growth rate registered in the world’s tourism. There were 21.1 million tourist arrivals, and total revenues were estimated to 14 billion USD which made 2005 the Golden Year for the Turkish tourism industry (see previous table).

In the following table the history of Turkish tourism since the year of 1980 is demonstrated graphically.

Table 5: International tourist arrivals and tourism receipts in Turkey since 1980

Importance of Tourism in Turkey

It is not easy to measure all the economic and developmental impacts of tourism in Turkey because the various components of the industry on both the supply and demand sides are closely linked to other segments of the economy. However, related statistical figures have facilitated an examination of the importance of international inbound tourism as a source of foreign currency earnings, as an employment generator, and as a revenue source for GNP. While it is possible to evaluate the contributions of tourism to the national economy, it is difficult to measure its contribution to overall development. (Tosun, Timothy, Ozturk 2003)

Turkey adopted tourism as an alternative economic development strategy to support new export-led growth strategies, to create more jobs and to establish a favourable image on the international platform (Tosun 1998).

Since 1980, the importance and contribution of tourism to the economy in Turkey has increased rapidly, and USD 13.929 million tourism revenues accounted for 4.1% of GDP in 2005 (see the following table).








Direct Employment703 022760 916891 334975 3991 012 1521 009 2111 007 793
Change (%)8,2417,149,433,77-0,29-0,14

Direct + Indirect

1 757 541 902 2902 228 3342 438 4982 530 3792 523 0262 519 481