Türkiye ramping up efforts for sustainable tourism
The country, which launched the Safe Tourism Certificate program amidst the coronavirus pandemic, signed a collaboration agreement with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) earlier this year and became the first government in the world to develop a mandatory national program with the GSTC.
The Turkish tourism industry will be restructured with the 3-year agreement signed with the GSTC, which manages the global standards in sustainable tourism.
In the first stage of the agreement, the national program criteria will be determined, and inspection firms will receive training.
In the first week of February 2023, the stakeholders in the industry will become part of this process, according to daily Milliyet.
The first stage of the program will become operational in early 2023. The second stage will be carried out gradually in 2025. The program is planned to be concluded by 2030, when all international standards will be met.
The agreement with the GSTC will also help achieve the goals of The Paris Agreement, which Türkiye signed last year.
The collaboration with GSTC will highlight the country as a strong competitor in the international arena, while helping Türkiye catch up with international tourism trends, said the council in a statement.
“It is very important to cut carbon emissions to create a sustainable tourism industry,” Firuz Bağlıkaya, head of the Türkiye Travel Agencies’ Association (TÜRSAB) told Milliyet.
People now tend to travel to short-distance destinations and Türkiye is located within the reach of 3 to 4 hours’ flight for 1.5 billion people, Bağlıkaya added.
“Türkiye is standing out due to its location but it is also imperative for the country to act with a strategy designed to meet the increasing demand for environment-friendly and sustainable tourism activities. Some 87 percent of international travelers say sustainable tourism is important for the world and two out of three of holidaymakers want to stay at environment-friendly facilities.”
TÜRSAB inked a sustainable tourism deal with the UNDP and provides training to travel agencies, Bağlıkaya said.
He added that interest in eco-tourism and glamping grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The local hospitality sector has been leading efforts in sustainability, working to reduce energy and water consumption and recycling waste, said Müberra Eresin, head of the Hotel Association of Türkiye.
“Those efforts increase costs but pay off in the medium to longer terms,” she added.
Tourism and travel changed over the past two years, and with this transformation hygiene will remain an important priority, she noted.
“Travelers are now more concerned about sustainability, wellbeing and wellness. Holiday now means much more than laying on the beach,” Eresin said.