A new breath in tourism: The Mosaic Road

A new breath in tourism: The Mosaic Road

I was at the southern province of Hatay this weekend for a comprehensive event organized by the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD). Hatay, which has a population of 1.5 million, is now hosting 500,000 refugees. 

Hatay is the second province after Istanbul in the logistics sector and is the export champion of fresh fruit and vegetables. Hatay economy has been hit heavily due to the war in Syria. 

While around 220,000 tourists visited Hatay in 2010, this figure is only around 50,000 today. 

Just like Mardin and Diyarbakır, this province has succeeded in reaching a certain point in tourism through hard work in various projects. 

The fame of Antakya Chorus of Civilization, which expresses the peaceful cohabitation of people of different religions and ethnicities for centuries, with music, has spread across the borders. They are preparing for a concert in Washington in April. 

An investor from Antakya, Necmi Asfuroğlu, is spending $100 million for a “museum-hotel,” second of its kind in the world, under the Hilton brand. It is being built on ancient Roman ruins. Spectacular mosaics are also included in the ruins of an apparently large ancient neighborhood. It is a separate discussion whether or not it is correct to build a hotel over these extremely precious ruins. 

What I am saying is that the tourism sector in Hatay has not given up hope for a future these days when 70,000 more Syrian refugees are on our borders. 

Just as those who protect and promote Turkey’s cultural and historic heritage.    

One of Turkey’s biggest groups, the Doğuş Group, has undertaken the excavation and international promotion of Göbeklitepe. Two prominent businesswomen, Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan and Elif Çoban, have united for a “Mosaic Road.” 

Demet Sabancı formed the “One Association” two years ago to promote our cultural and historic heritage domestically and internationally. The Mosaic Road project, led by the One Association, aims to promote the unique mosaics of this land. 

Famous historian Professor İlber Ortaylı is heading the advisory board of the project, which will cover Zeugma in Gaziantep, the Germanicia mosaics in Kahramanmaraş, the antique treasure of Hatay and Şanlıurfa’s significant mosaics. 

Tours will be organized in these cities. The first promotion of the Mosaic Road will be held at Gsdaad, Switzerland. In May, another one is planned at the Guggenheim Museum at Venice. Others will be held at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

Elif Çoban, who has Gaziantep origins, said, “We supported the Mosaic Road project immediately. As a company that has taken sound steps in branding for 27 years, we know the necessity that before anything else, it should be Turkey that should become a brand.”

The better we promote our biggest riches, our cultural and historic heritage, to the world, the more its contribution to the country brand will be.