Local Turkey

UN, Turkish travel agency spearhead path to sustainable tourism

Thanks to Anatolia’s diversity, various alternatives can be created for ecotourism, sustainable tourism, says UNDP official

As COVID-19 leads more vacationers to opt for alternatives such as caravanning and ecotourism, the UN Development Program (UNDP) and a leading Turkish travel and leisure agency, Jolly, are spearheading sustainable tourism routes in Turkey.

Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency, Mustafa Ali Yurdupak, the inclusive and sustainable growth portfolio manager at the UNDP Turkey, said: “We will work on blazing the way for sustainable tourism routes under the medium-term goals of the campaign of Mirasim Turkey.”

The Mirasim Turkiye (My Heritage Turkey) campaign, launched by Jolly nearly three years ago, aims to help preserve Turkey’s rich heritage and pass it down to future generations.

The project is seeking out alternatives to beach-based tourism which will also help benefit local economies, Yurdupak explained.

“We will work on (figuring out) when we take a tour group, how can a route including several legs be put together? Which geographic areas should be prioritized?” he added.

The campaign’s short-term goal is using digital tools to build an understanding of “responsible tourism” among children and their families, he underlined.

In the long run, the campaign aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of tourism agencies with the goal of sustainability and to launch special efforts towards these sustainable tourism routes, he noted.

These efforts will raise awareness among tourists, identify areas for development, and develop steps to be taken, he said.

Turkey’s advantages

The UNDP says the project will be an incubator for scaled-up projects to be developed with the help of such partners as the government and relevant NGOs, Yurdupak explained.

Noting that the UNDP Turkey has already been carrying out projects in the field of tourism, he said:

“With this accumulated experience and know-how, our familiarity with implementation partners, and an international pool of experts, the UNDP is the right partner for any businesses or NGOs that want to operate in the field of sustainable tourism.”

Compared to other countries, Turkey enjoys an advantage firstly in taking action early, despite adopting tourism-based development somewhat late, said Yurdupak.

“Turkey’s second advantage is the enormous diversity of Anatolia,” he explained, referring to the vast geography of Turkey, ranging from snowy peaks to coastal plains and challenging canyons, with everything in between.

“In other words, this is a country where an incredible number of alternatives can be created for ecotourism, for sustainable tourism destinations.”

The children shall lead

Mert Vardar, the CEO of Jolly, said the campaign aims to raise awareness of sustainable tourism amid a rising population, the erosion of traditional cultural heritage, and advancing climate change.

Later, the project will convey the awareness of sustainable tourism for the inter-linked value chain of tourism such as cruises, transport companies, hotels, and travel agencies, he stressed.

“We started drafting how to create child-friendly routes in several regions with the UNDP,” he noted, adding that these will be unveiled in the coming years.

Yasemin Develioglu, Jolly’s marketing director, said their agency has been working to promote Turkey’s natural, historical, and cultural treasures such as handicrafts that are in danger of being lost.

“This year, our cooperation with the UNDP will ensure that natural and cultural values are preserved and passed down to future generations,” she said.

In particular, boosting children’s awareness of the field of sustainable tourism will change families’ awareness of sustainability issues and in turn the way of looking at things for the entire society, she explained.

She added that have maps, videos, and other educational content aimed at child travelers have already been posted at the website mirasimturkiye.com.


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