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History of Tourism Development in Turkey

Medet Yolal


Turkey is one of the largest countries in Europe and the Middle East with an area of approximately 800,000 km2. Moreover, it is surrounded by three seas and has a coastline of more than 8300 km. Due to its great geographical and natural attractions and its numerous historical and archeological sites, and in addition to having been home to a number of diverse civilizations over time, Turkey is one of the most important destinations in the world. Thus, the opportunities Turkey can offer to the international markets are not limited to sea, sun, and sand (Emekli et al. 2006). Rather, Turkey has a rich blend of undiscovered authentic natural and cultural assets waiting to be explored by the globalized tourist markets.

It has been argued that tourism is an easy, effective and relatively inexpensive instrument to achieve economic well-being (Tosun 2001). Despite its potential, however, Turkey was relatively late to develop its tourism industry compared to other destinations in the Mediterranean region. Although some minor initiatives were taken as early as the 1960s to benefit from the economic, social, and cultural impact of tourism (Duzgunoglu and Karabulut 1999), it was not until the 1980s that serious and sound attempts were made to enhance the tourism industry. In its search for ways to develop the tourism industry, Turkey enacted the Tourism Encouragement Law in 1982. This law resulted in several incentives, including the transfer of public land to private tourism companies, which, coupled with the liberalization of the economy, accelerated the development of tourism in the country (Erkus-Ozturk and Eraydin 2010). In consideration of this law, the country focused its efforts on building physical amenities, such as hotels, roads, and airports that were tailored to fit the needs of mass tourism with the intent to increase international tourism arrivals (Tosun et al. 2008). Consequently, Turkey was soon [1] [2]

marketed as a low-price holiday destination, and a rapid increase in tourist arrivals and receipts was observed. As the authorities were slow to control this growth in favor of tourist dollars, the increase in tourist arrivals was seen as a success, given that the measuring tool was linked to quantity (Cooper and Ozdil 1992). Unfortunately, sociocultural, economic, and environmental costs of tourism have been underestimated in the absence of proper planning and development principles (Tosun 1998), and as a result, tourism growth has taken place largely in a haphazard way and created socioeconomic and environmental problems. Hence, the development of unsustainable tourism expanded (?etinel and Yolal 2009).

Given this background, this chapter summarizes the main steps in the development of Turkey’s tourism sector and emphasizes the roles of the government and foreign investors in shaping the geography of tourism development in Turkey. Accordingly, earlier efforts to develop tourism are also summarized. This is followed by an account of tourism policies within the framework of tourism development plans. Further, the current structure of the Turkish tourism industry is portrayed, and consistent with this, socioeconomic, cultural and economic impacts and drawbacks caused by mass tourism are discussed. The chapter ends with theoretical and managerial implications on the basis of the drawbacks of mass tourism as experienced in the country.

  • [1] M. Yolal (H) Faculty of Tourism, Anadolu University, 26470 Eskisehir, Turkeye-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2016 23
  • [2] Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_2
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