Between Traditional and Modern: Thermal Tourism in Turkey
International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism (AIEST) defined tourism as “people travelling to places other than their permanent places of residence, places of work and places which normally fulfill their regular needs to demand products and services usually generated by tourism establishments and comprised of incidents generated by temporary accommodation” (Kozak et al. 2008: 3). People travel to other places for a variety of reasons, including taking care of their health.
Health and tourism are two concepts which occupy a significant place in the lives of humans. Health tourism is a holistic activity which is closely affiliated to both of these concepts and yet is comprised of independent unique characteristics (Swain and Sahu 2008). Nowadays, those who want to have a “healthy, long, and high-quality life” are very interested in visiting sports centers, hot springs, spas, thermal tourism and health centers (Gtine§ 2011: 20). This has led to the inception of what is known as health tourism which is essentially traveling for health purposes (Selvi 2008: 275).
Thermal tourism, which is a type of health tourism, has continuously grown in importance in Turkey to become one of the types of tourism with the greatest demand.
The primary purpose of this study is to assess:
- 1. the position of thermal tourism within broader tourism development in Turkey and
- 2. the contribution this type of tourism can make to the development of alternative tourism in the country.  
The paper will discuss the development of thermal tourism in Turkey in historical context and will map the spatial distribution of the tourism centers connected to this type of tourism. The study will also address the problems that hinder the development of thermal tourism as well as the contribution this type of tourism can make to local tourism and economic development. The data used in the study have been obtained from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Statistics Institute of Turkey (TU1K), and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Thematic maps have been generated with the help of the ArcGIS program according to the numbers of thermal tourism operations and accommodation figures in Turkey. Furthermore, proposals have been presented for the use of resources in a more efficient and productive way.
-  Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_7