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Nature-Based Tourism in Turkey: The Yayla in Turkey’s Eastern Black Sea Region
Faruk Alaeddinoglu and Mehmet §eremet
Since the 1960s, interest in sustainable tourism has seen a massive growth, the overwhelming focus of which was on creating an alternative to ‘mass’ tourism by changing the way people think about their participation in tourism (Williams 1998). This was particularly reinforced by the Conference on Sustainability in Rio (1992), where tourism was one of the major sectors through which sustainability principles were expected to be implemented. While assuming a change of direction within the sector, there was simultaneously a growing trend of travellers showing more interest in the uniqueness of nature and unspoiled environments (WTO 1996). In the 1990s, nature-based tourism was seen as a part of sustainable tourism. Lee (1997) asserted that the contribution of nature-based tourism to the local economy was about seven dollars per person. With more than 4.5 million tourists per year, this is equivalent to 31 million US dollars of economic value for the most popular nature-based tourist destination in Turkey (namely the ‘Black Sea region’). In this sense, the region has great potential as a site of nature-based tourism. However, as a result of offering sustainable tourism alternatives to visitors, locals might expect to attract tourists who are more aware of and respectful towards the natural environment.
In this manner, it was not only a matter of changing people’s interests from mainstream forms of tourism (‘sea, sun, and sand’) to more eclectic forms of tourism—encompassing natural environments (e.g. mountains, valleys, and rivers)
F. Alaeddinoglu (H)
© Springer International Publishing AG 2016
I. Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_5
and historical and cultural heritage sites—but also concerned people’s behaviour towards nature when taking part in touristic activities.
As a result, education has emerged as a salient driving factor for promoting people’s awareness of nature (UNESCO 2015; Hatipoglu et al. 2014). While Western societies place more emphasis on this alternative tourism, education for sustainable tourism development has been a driving force in raising awareness towards the environment and unsustainable lifestyles, resulting in increased awareness of environmental issues that will assist the tourism sector in developing in a more sustainable way. Conversely, there is still the challenge of reaching societies that remain somewhat naive towards the activities of their own tourism sectors. This naivety is borne of a lack of environmental education for both people and regulatory bodies in developing countries.
Despite this apparent contradiction, there has been an increasing focus on the so-called nature-based tourism. Although there is no universally accepted single definition of this form of tourism, its most common features are principally related to its proximity to urban settlements (Priskin 2001), unspoiled environments (Gunn 1988), and more flexible forms of tourism in nature (Naidoo and Adamowicz 2005). This type of tourism occurs in different forms such as hiking, trekking, birdwatching, and safari. Given that nature-based tourism is not necessarily a sustainable form of tourism, it includes slightly different terminology than that of ecotourism, not least because ecotourism refers to more ecologically friendly and conservation-based forms of tourism.
Nevertheless, the term ‘nature-based tourism’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘ecotourism’ within developing countries, in the sense that these terms are not mutually exclusive in countries such as Turkey. This is principally because tourists are interested in places unspoiled by massification. In the developing world, however, it is more likely that nature-based tourism might be classed as an ‘unsustainable’ form of tourism, although this is not necessarily true for all new tourism development areas. Indeed, when both attractions and the people’s pleasure take place in a natural environment, the activities undertaken may well lead to the damaging of said environment. This would indicate that nature-based tourism is not always undertaken in a sustainable manner. In response, this chapter aims to present alternative forms of nature-based tourism, both sustainably and unsustainably practised.
Nature-based tourism not only encompasses nature-oriented forms of tourism, such as nature photography, birdwatching, and caving, but also covers sport-based activities such as hiking, climbing, and canoeing. While many of these activities are available in any given place, many places also have one or more ‘trademark’ activities: for instance, skiing in the Alps, rafting in Canada’s Magpie River, or hiking in the Colorado Valley in the USA: many such examples are readily available. There is, however, a strong assumption that more prosperous countries conduct nature-based tourism in a more sustainable way than developing countries. It is therefore important to present cases from less developed, but rapidly industrialising, parts of world. In this case, the authors’ home country, Turkey, will be the subject matter in this chapter, focusing on its new tourism development region, the eastern Black Sea.