Destination-oriented regional tourism brand promoted
Speaking at the event, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said Turkey has the richest and most unique homeland in the world with its history, culture and geographical structure.
“We will implement tourism investments in each province [of the region] in the most accurate and successful way, step-by-step, and we will give these lands a new identity in terms of culture and tourism,” Ersoy said.
He said the tourism-focused promotion and branding project for the southeastern Anatolia region includes the provinces of Adıyaman, Batman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Şanlıurfa and Şırnak.
Noting that the southeastern Anatolia region “reflects Turkey’s tourism diversity,” the minister said: “In these nine provinces, more than 18.5 million Turkish Liras [around $2.1 million] of the project and application aid was provided to 611 immovable cultural assets, and approximately 152 million liras [around $17.3 million] was allocated for landscaping and infrastructure applications.”
The event was also attended by Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank. “By preserving the cultural and natural heritage, we want to make Mesopotamia a global brand, to engrave it in people’s minds, and to ensure that more people visit these places and collect unforgettable memories,” he said.
Varank said Turkey also aims to “increase tourism revenues, create new employment opportunities and accelerate development in the region” through this project.
Şanlıurfa Governor Abdullah Erin also cited Mesopotamia’s “countless treasures, riches and cultural and historical assets.”
Erin said the nine provinces of the region included in the project can get the share they deserve from the growing tourism economy with the synergy they will create under the “Mesopotamia” brand.
New sites discovered near Göbeklitepe
It was also announced in the event that 11 new hills around the world-famous ancient site of Göbeklitepe in Şanlıurfa were discovered.
“We have [discovered] 11 more major hills on a 100-kilometer line around Göbeklitepe. Here, we will give the details for the first time, and now call it 12 hills,” Ersoy said at the event.
Speaking to reporters, Ersoy said a “major study” on the 12 hills is about to be completed and will be presented in September.
He said the area could even be referred to as the “pyramids of southeast Turkey.”
“When you look at Mesopotamia, this region has a unique culture. It has its own registered gastronomy. It has many products. And when you combine that with its unique archaeological value, it’s a wonderful thing,” he added.
Citing the establishment of Turkey’s Tourism Promotion and Development Agency in 2019, Ersoy said the main goal of the agency is “to spread tourism across our 81 provinces in Turkey by 2023.”
Göbeklitepe has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List since 2011. It was discovered in 1963 when researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago were working at the site.
In joint work at the site since 1995, the German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering three to six meters high and weighing 40-60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse 12,000-year-old artifacts such as human statuettes that are 65 centimeters high were also unearthed.