TÜSİAD’s sustainable tourism report

TÜSİAD’s sustainable tourism report

The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), which has once more become the target of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s arrows of criticism, issued an important report last week that went unnoticed.

The person who wrote and presented the “Sustainable Tourism” report was Zeynep Silahtaroğlu Baykal, the second-generation head of the Lykia Group, which made the first tourism investment in Turkey’s tourism capital, Antalya. Baykal also heads TÜSİAD’s Tourism Working Group.

The Lykia Group serves 55,000 families each year at their hotels in Fethiye, Antalya and Cappadocia. Baykal was trained as a tourism operator almost literally from the cradle. She has played a major role in the group’s innovative moves, for example when the group, which has its roots in the traditional Antalya sea-sand-sun triangle, made its 160 million-euro investment in golf tourism.

Before referring to the report prepared by Baykal and her team, let’s take a look at tourism figures. According to 2011 data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Turkey ranks in 11th place worldwide in tourism income with $23 billion. The U.S. is first, with an income of $116 billion. Second place belongs to Spain, with $59.9 billion, and next comes France with $53 billion. As far as I can see from the list, Italy, which traditionally occupies the fourth place, has lost its spot to China. China’s tourism income is $48.5 billion; Italy’s is $43 billion.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has announced targets of 50 million tourists and $50 billion in tourism revenues for 2023. How realistic is it for Turkey to reach that goal? TÜSİAD’s “Sustainable Tourism” report has significant tips on reaching this target.

For the sake of example, Turkey has significant tourist facilities in the Mediterranean basin, a region which taken as a whole accounts for one fourth of the world’s tourism revenue and bed capacity. The biggest problem with the Mediterranean basin is its rising pollution. If the necessary measures are not taken, it may be completely polluted by the end of this century. While developed countries around the Mediterranean basin have taken important steps in this area, it is well known that Turkey has quite a lot of shortcomings in terms of infrastructure; for example, hotels do not provide 100 percent water treatment.

One of the prerequisites of sustainable tourism is that it does not destroy natural resources and respects the environment. Conscious tourists these days increasingly seek more respect for the environment in a destination. Turkey has to do its homework on this issue.

Turkey also has some issues around human resources in the tourism industry. The tourism sector accounts for nine percent of total employment. However, especially in the southern region, because tourism is “seasonal” it is impossible to talk about a qualified workforce, and there is also the factor of unregistered workers connected to the same phenomenon. The TÜSİAD report cites training a qualified workforce and fighting against unregistered employment as key. The report suggests that those institutions that provide sustainable employment and prioritize the training of staff should be encouraged by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Another fact the report reveals is this: Turkish historic and cultural sites that are listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List definitely factors that increase our competitiveness in tourism.

TÜSİAD’s “Sustainable Tourism” report is quite an expansive road map for tourism managers.