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CBT Projects as Sustainable Development in Turkey

As discussed elsewhere in this book, much of the earlier tourism development in Turkey took place along the southern and western coasts and, prompted by the national government’s 1982 Tourism Encouragement Act, took the form of accelerated ‘mass tourism development’ (Tosun 2001). On this, Tosun (2001: 292) argued that: ‘Although enacting the legislation of the Tourism Incentives Law No. 2634 appears to have provided a more detailed structure for the tourism development, it was not the objective to create sustainable tourism development’. Relevant to the concept of community-based tourism, Tosun summarised his analysis of the earlier period of tourism development in Turkey by saying: ‘In brief, tourism continues to be driven by central government and its clients, rather than community interests in Turkey. This reveals that tourism development in many local tourist destinations in Turkey and elsewhere in the developing world contradicts principles of sustainable tourism development’ (Tosun 2001: 294-295).

In more recent years, however, as part of the Tourism Strategy of Turkey 2023 prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2007, the Turkish government’s shift towards more sustainable tourism development has included community-based tourism. Along with plans to realise the tourism potential of parts of the country other than the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, a key goal of the Tourism Strategy of Turkey 2023 was to expand alternative tourism potential, including CBT (COMCEC 2013). For this purpose, several CBT project implementations have been initiated in different parts of the country. Prominent examples, undertaken in conjunction with international development organisations, include the Tourism Development in Eastern Anatolia Project, a joint sustainable tourism project operated by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, UNDP and Anadolu Efes

Company, and also the Alliances for Culture Tourism (ACT) in Eastern Anatolia project, which was a United Nations Joint Project centred in Kars.

The Tourism Development in Eastern Anatolia Project was undertaken between 2007 and 2012 and, by focusing on community-based tourism as a sector with enormous potential to create sustainable economic growth in the region, targeted the local community as the primary beneficiary for capacity-building activities and tourism revenues (Tasci et al. 2013). The general goal of the project was to contribute to the living standards of local people by enhancing tourist activities in Coruh Valley in the north-eastern part of Turkey (Tasci et al. 2013). Within this goal, three specific objectives were defined. These included tourism product development, enhancement of local capacities and promotion of the region. Product development focused on regional opportunities such as bird-watching, historic Georgian religious heritage, trekking, gastronomy and the establishment of homestays. Local capacity building included training programmes delivered to women participants to enhance local handicraft production, entrepreneurship training, training support and small-scale grants for home-stay start-ups, and establishment of two local tourism organisations. Promotion of the region included organisation of gastronomy festivals and cooking contests, promotional collaboration with national associations for tour guiding, hoteliers and travel agencies, together with participation in international, national and regional tourism fairs, meetings and conferences. Apparent local community benefits arising from the project included the following: increased income from tourism activities especially among younger generations and women; ownership of tourism accommodation facilities (bed and breakfasts) by local people; increased local capacities pertaining to tourism, food and handicraft production; increased inclusion of women and youth in the tourism workforce (especially relating to homestays, souvenir and local food production); and growth in special interest tourism in the region (gastro- nomical, trekking, mountain-biking, rafting, canoeing, sailing, bird-watching).

Also undertaken in the east of the country was the Alliances for Culture Tourism (ACT) in Eastern Anatolia project, a United Nations Joint Project, bringing UNESCO, UNWTO and UNDP together with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as well as regional authorities and NGOs. Based in Kars, the focus of the project was essentially a poverty-reduction capacity building program, aimed at delivering training to the community in the fields of cultural heritage management, entrepreneurship and marketing in tourism. The project focused on various forms of alternative tourism development, including tangible and intangible cultural heritage tourism, winter tourism and small-scale bed and breakfast development in outlying villages. Whilst the project did have CBT principles, such as ‘community participation and ownership’ and ‘community as the main beneficiary’, the project cannot be said to have satisfied all of the community-based tourism principles. Most particularly, the UNJP, the community and the Ministry are the main decisive authorities... [which] prevented a desirable level of control by the community (Tasci et al. 2013).

Indeed, it is a common problem with externally instigated CBT projects that, whilst they are successful at instigating and encouraging the more ‘alternative’ forms of tourism, they lack the level of local community involvement in decision-making and planning that the more locally implemented CBT projects have. It is perhaps for this reason that, between 2012 and 2015, the ongoing partnership between Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the UNDP undertook a ‘Capacity Development for Sustainable Community Based Tourism’ project, aimed at constructing ‘an inventory of existing local initiatives on sustainable community-based tourism for selected region(s) (with a regional focus) and come up with capacity-related recommendations to replicate successful examples and build on lessons learned’ (UNDP 2016). The understanding of ‘sustainable community-based tourism’ upon which this project was premised is that it is ‘a type of tourism that is built on local natural and cultural values with a view to both protect and benefit from such values and that provides benefit to local communities of that location including women and the most disadvantaged populations’ (UNDP 2016).

Besides the larger externally instigated CBT project undertakings in Turkey, such as those involving the UNDP and UNJP, other more locally instigated CBT projects have been implemented elsewhere, such as the Nallihan Developing Rural Tourism Project initiated in 2010 through the cooperation of the local municipality, NGOs and local citizens (COMCEC 2013), and the Beypazari project, which was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Beypazari Municipality, local NGOs and the local community. The Beypazari project involved the restoration of 560 houses, revival of forgotten handcrafts and inclusion of the local people into the CBT project. As a result, the number of tourist arrivals to the district has increased from 2500 in 1998 to 450,000 in 2012, resulting in a significant development of the local economy (COMCEC 2013).

Compared with those larger projects instigated by the UNDP and UNJP which inputted significant amounts of external funding, the two examples of Nallihan and Beypazari are closer to the examples of CBT pointed out by Gascon (2013) mentioned above, in that they were generated more through community initiatives rather than external impetus and funding. It is widely acknowledged, however, that CBT is difficult to develop without external help and funding, due to barriers such as limited capital, lack of tourism and business knowledge, and lack of marketing ability. It is therefore noteworthy that the examples of Nallihan and Beypazari appear to have been reasonably effective. This is where, also, it is pertinent to look more in-depth into one example of CBT as a ‘case study’. Goreme township, in the Cappadocia region, has indeed largely succeeded in developing tourism with extremely high levels of ‘local’ ownership, control and benefit. In the remainder of this chapter, there will follow a more in-depth discussion of how and why CBT has developed in Goreme. The discussion will also consider the outcomes of CBT in Goreme as they relate to ‘alternative tourism’.

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