Mersin includes creative economy in its vision

Mersin includes creative economy in its vision

I have been monitoring the Mediterranean town of Mersin for many years. It is one of the cities that best understands the harmonization process with the European Union (EU). 

As well as pioneering in the topic of “development agencies” it is a city that has drawn a clear road map for itself, maybe for the first time in Turkey, with “Innovation Forums.” 

There are three sectors at the forefront on Mersin’s roadmap: agriculture, logistics and tourism.

Even though 58 percent of its population is still making a living from agriculture, even though it is the most important Turkish port after Istanbul, Mersin seems to be focusing on tourism recently.

Since Greece was stripped of the hosting rights of the 2013 Mediterranean Games because of the economic crisis it is undergoing, Mersin has come across a historic opportunity. 

The fact that the Mediterranean Games, where 3,500 athletes compete under Olympic rules, will be held in Mersin in 2013 is a milestone for the city, as the head of the executive board of the Mersin Chamber of Trade and Industry, Şerafettin Aşut, pointed out. 

It is also another positive point that the Mediterranean Games will be a reference for Istanbul which is a candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games. In parallel with preparations for the Mediterranean Games, estimated to cost 200 million euros, Mersin is also about to start a project to make its 320-km virgin beach suitable for tourism. 

In this new tourism zone, named Tarsus-Kazanlı Tourism Center, hotels with a total bed capacity of 7,600, two golf courses, a convention center and a health complex are planned.

When this project is finalized, Mersin will become the most important destination in the eastern Mediterranean with its 15,000 bed capacity. 

Meanwhile, I should indeed mention that there is an international airport for Mersin on the agenda. 

I was in Mersin again the other day, after a long break, to participate in the seventh Innovation Forum at the invitation of the Mersin Chamber of Trade and Industry. I can sum up the main topic of the forum here, the theme “Culture Economy and Tourism.”

Following the example of London hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics, Mersin wants to add cultural activities to sports activities within the framework of the Mediterranean Games. 

One of the consultants to the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Robert Paul Owens, participated in the forum as a lecturer. He said cultural activities integrate people more in the Olympics. 

Mersin is no stranger to arts and culture with its Classical Music Festival and its Literary Award. Yet its wish to lay strong foundations of cultural activities on the occasion of the Mediterranean Games might pave the way for “culture economy” for it in the future. 

Another lecturer in the seventh Innovation Forum, Dr. İsmail Ertürk from Manchester University, focuses on “creative economy” and “culture industry.” He has already organized a conference on “creative economies” in Istanbul within the framework of activities for Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture. 

He said Mersin was the second city, after Istanbul, introduced to the concept of “creative economy.” 

According to Ertürk, Istanbul failed to make use of the process of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture to transfer it to “creative economy.” Mersin, having placed “creative economy” at the center of its vision, may be able to achieve this through the Mediterranean Games.