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Antalya’s Booming Non-Fordist Mass-Tourism

Antalya is a booming ‘sand-sea-Sun’ mass-tourism place. Over the last fifteen years, its number of visitors has steadily grown from 1 million to 10 million. The majority of tourists come from Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK, who all arrive by air because the city is hardly accessible to them by car. No wonder that most of the trips from those countries to Antalya are organized by tour operators, who sell either combinations of transport plus hotel or all-inclusive trips (transport plus full board in a hotel). All this suggests that Antalya tourism perfectly fits the Fordist model of tourism. But it does not.

Antalya’s tourism began to grow in the 1980s when Fordism in western Europe was already in decline for almost a decade. In the Fordist era, the European airline industry was dominated by national carriers who were heavily supported and protected by the state. Their monopoly positions kept prices of airline tickets so high that the middle and higher middle classes in western Europe could not afford to go on holidays by plane. That is why western European tour operators hardly offered trips abroad by plane. It was precisely when Fordism began to decline that the European and global airline market became gradually liberalized. The liberalization of the airline market was, in fact, part of the broad switch of Fordism to post-Fordism. This opened the door to low-cost carriers to enter the airline market and to tour operators to offer trips abroad by plane, particularly to low-wage/ low-cost places such as Antalya.

A similar argument can be made for Turkey. In post-war period (and before), the Turkish state followed a policy of a rapid modernization of society and attempted to stimulate economic growth through an import substitution policy as a result of which national industries were heavily protected. Notwithstanding the state’s strong influence on economic life, the post-war Turkish accumulation regime can be better labelled as Kemalist than Fordist (Fuat Keyman and Oni§ 2007, pp. 13-17). A capital-labour compromise, which is the dominant Fordist institutional arrangement, was absent in Turkey. Around 1980, two important political-economic changes took place that have stimulated the growth of tourism in Antalya, namely a general liberalization of the economy in combination with an export-led growth policy and a policy to stimulate tourism growth in so-called tourism zones (on which later more). In short, it is the decline of Fordism in western Europe and the neoliberal switch in Turkish political-economic policy that have stimulated the growth of mass-tourism in Antalya. Thus, Antalya’s mass-tourism has been booming without a Fordist mode of regulation. It is non-Fordist.

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