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The Case of Bursa: Alternative Tourism Potentials and Challenges

A Tourism Vision of Bursa and the Potentials of Alternative Tourism

Bursa is one of the most developed provinces in Turkey and is located in the Marmara region, which historically was the center of the Ottoman Empire. The industrialization process began in the 1960s, while the importance of Bursa has increased as one of the major centers related to the export-based development policy of Turkey since the 1980. According to 2014 per capita export data, Bursa is 4th, following Istanbul, Kocaeli and Gaziantep (TUIK 2015a). While the per capita income was 29 % above the national average in 1997, it increased to 68 % in 2006.[1] The colocation of manufacturing industry in Bursa has created a demand on the agricultural sector; however, the density of industrialization, migration, and rapid urbanization has caused negative impacts on the fertile agricultural fields by pollution and loss of land. The rapid changes, urban sprawl, and increasing pressure on the lands have created the need for a new plan for the province of Bursa, combining the economic development with spatial development. Furthermore, following the world trends, the local authorities are especially ambitious to make progress on tourism sector.

The current national policy document on tourism is Tourism Strategy 2023 Vision, which has been prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The strategy document highlights the main points of the vision: to make tourism a leading sector for regional development and increase the number employed with a sustainable tourism approach. Moreover, the target was identified to make Turkey an international brand, being among the first five countries in the number of tourists and revenue by 2023. The tourism development regions and axes have been defined within the strategy document. Bursa appears within the cultural tourism region, while congress tourism has also been identified for diversification of tourism products (Ministry of Culture and Tourism 2007).

The vision of a regional plan, prepared by the Bursa Development Agency (including the provinces of Eski^ehir and Bilecik) for the years of 2010-2013, is defined as ‘a wealthy region with knowledge-based industry and agriculture and a tourism center with its culture and natural values’. In addition to the emphasis on cultural tourism, one of the targets is to develop alternative tourism products in order to extend the tourism season (BEBKA 2011).

The number of tourists in Bursa is 2.02 % of Turkey and 7.2 % of the Marmara region (TUIK 2015b). Bursa is ranked 9th among the 81 provinces, while it is 2nd among 11 provinces in the Marmara region due to the number of visitors. The number of tourists in Bursa has increased by 85 % from 2005 to 2010 while the domestic tourists are 81 % of the total visitors according to 2014 data (TUIK 2015b). The international market has been basically from Europe (34 %), while the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia (19 %) and other countries from the east and Arab peninsula (Russia, UAE, and Kuwait) has increased in the last two decades. SWOT analysis highlights the strong parts of tourism in Bursa as a diversity of tourism products. However, the main issue that has occurred is the lack of mobilizing the existing tourism potentials.[2] As we know, the dominance of the manufacturing industry has caused a delay in the desired contribution of tourism to the urban economy.

According to the Tourism Working Group Survey of the Bursa Metropolitan Plan, the major origins of domestic visitors are from the three big cities of Turkey and the majority of visits are a 1- to 2-day trip with 44 % and 3-5 days with 27 % of total visitors. Both the growth rate of the number of visitors and the occupancy rate are below the national average. Demand and supply of accommodations are mainly concentrated in the central districts, while the most well-known and attractive areas are historical districts for cultural tourism and Uludag mountain as the first winter tourism center of Turkey. Furthermore, the most visited places within Bursa are identified, respectively: 38 % historical city center, religious centers 30 %, Iznik, Cumalikizik, Mudanya, Inegol 19 %, and Uludag 15 %.[3] The survey with the hotel managers has also brought forward winter tourism (85 %), cultural tourism (76 %), and thermal tourism (69 %), while tourists have pointed out cultural tourism, health and thermal tourism, winter tourism, congress tourism, and ecotourism as the most convenient tourism products for the future in Bursa.[4]

The increases in the number of tourists and tourism revenues are generally considered as the most important indicators for tourism development. However, recent approaches take into consideration the sustainability of natural and cultural values and social inclusion within the region/city in order to maintain the tourism income rather than measuring the development just by numbers. Therefore, the road map of tourism should include those concerns, by enhancing the strong parts and solving the problems. From that point, the Tourism Working Group conducted their strategies based on six subregions in Bursa by analyzing the existing potentials of different types of tourism: culture and heritage, winter, thermal/spa, convention and exhibition, coastal and alternative (Fig. 20.1).

Regarding the tourism vision of Bursa, four main objectives are identified as follows:

  • 1. To increase competitiveness.
  • 2. To develop tourism by conserving the nature and cultural values.
  • 3. To diversify the tourism products.
  • 4. To utilize tourism for local economic development.

It is not expected that all potentials would be mobilized at the same time and that the different types of tourism are not competing, but they are complementary to each other. To diversify the tourism products not only provides a more balanced spatial

Existing potentials of different types of tourism in Bursa

Fig. 20.1 Existing potentials of different types of tourism in Bursa

distribution of demand, but also increases tourism revenues extending for the entire year. Diversification of tourism types would also be an opportunity for the development of peripheral, less-developed areas, and mountain villages. Bursa has a great advantage with its natural richness and being close to Istanbul, since there has been increasing interest of visitors from the big cities to spend time in nature. Moreover, tourism trends in the world show that visitors are seeking things different from what they have and are more interested in local culture. Therefore, the cultural heritage and natural richness of Bursa would be a chance for alternative tourism development. Three objectives of the tourism sector enhance the context of alternative tourism. Expectations from alternative tourism are preserving and improving the cultural heritage and natural values; providing opportunities of development in less-developed and rural areas; and stimulating local involvement and economic gains for local people. All these expectations match with the concept of sustainability.

Alternative tourism potentials are distributed within the province of Bursa (Fig. 20.1), which has also opportunities since it is located near the urban agglomeration of Istanbul. First, the presence of Uludag is the main attraction as a national park with its richness of endemic species. National parks are unique natural conservation areas and are a most important source of tourism revenue both for developed and developing countries. Uludag is not only a destination for winter tourism but also includes trekking routes throughout the whole year. Furthermore, Bursa has the uplands, caves, and wetlands for bird watching as an alternative tourism potential. The emergence of Cumalikizik as one of the tourism destinations in Bursa with its cultural, agricultural, and natural characteristics deserves to examine as a case study for alternative forms of tourism. In the following section, the emergence and development process of Cumalikizik is evaluated, taking into account the main actors and actions and its potentials and challenges for sustainability.

  • [1] Currentincome data is not available for the provinces after the establishing NUTS 2 level regionsin Turkey.
  • [2] Analysis of Bursa based on the Report of Tourism Sector of Bursa Master Plan, conducted by theMetropolitan Municipality of Bursa (2012) The corresponding author involved the planningprocess as the advisor of Tourism Sector Working Group.
  • [3] The data based on the Visitor Survey were conducted by the Tourism Sector Working Group ofthe Bursa Master Plan in 2012.
  • [4] The data based on the Hotel Survey were conducted by the Tourism Sector Working Group of theBursa Master Plan in 2012.
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