Austria ready to share experience to transform Turkey’s ski resorts
Gamze Düşmez - BURSA
The ski resort Uludağ near Bursa near the Marmara coast is one of Turkey’s most popular ski destinations. But come summer, it can hardly compete with the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, which attract millions of tourists.
Yet Uludağ (Grand Mountain in English) could become a year-round tourism destination, according to Austrian experts.
Austrian ski resorts discovered the huge summertime potential of their mountains 20 years ago, according to Johannes Triebnik, the manager of Austrian firm Input, which prepare master plans for mountain resorts.
Triebnik, alongside 10 Austrian firms, spoke at a meeting over the weekend on Uludağ to discuss the future of ski resorts.
“Now the global trend is sustainability in mountain tourism,” said Triebnik.
“Tourists are always looking for unique destinations. Ski resorts should focus on their strengths to become year-round tourism destinations. Turkey has a big culture and tradition. This is a big resource for Turkish mountain resorts,” he said. “Folk dancing, food, nature and architecture; all these attributes should be highlighted for summer tourism.”
Cable cars can contribute to summer tourism and should operate during the summer as well, according to Triebnik.
Another way to attract people to head for the mountains is biking, Triebnik said at the meeting, which was organized by Austria’s commercial office, Advantage Austria.
“Austria is investing 600 million euros in mountains every year. Although huge financing is needed for that investment, the reward is very high at the end,” said Georg Karabaczek, the commercial undersecretary of Advantage Austria. According to Karabaczek, half of Austria's ski resorts' income comes from winter and the other half from summer tourism. He added that it had not been easy for them to reach that point. But with 120 years of mountain tourism experience, Austrians have learned from their mistakes, he said.
Austrian firms are aware of the potential for mountain tourism in Turkey, and with 110 offices worldwide, Advantage Austria is ready to share its experience – as evidenced by the meeting on Uludağ.
Introducing the latest technology is not enough for tourism infrastructure, as master planning and recognizing the importance of sustainability and mitigating the effects of climate change are vital for mountain tourism, said the Austrian official.
As glaciers on the mountains are expected to melt, Austrian engineers are already studying how to prevent load-bearing pillars for cable cars and lifts on the mountains from bending.
Upgrading winter tourism destinations so that they can handle year-round activity is a priority for the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, according to ministry official Özgür Almaç. The public and the private sector are working on transforming Turkey’s existing tourism resorts into year-round destinations said Almaç.