Alternative Tourism in Turkey

Volume 121 of the series GeoJournal Library pp 125-139


Great Potential of the Colourful Cultural Heritage of Turkey: Ethnic Tourism

  • Vedat ÇalışkanAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Email author 

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Ethnic tourism is a type of tourism in which tourists are motivated to visit a destination in order to learn more about the traditional characteristics and lifestyles of ethnic groups. The location of Turkey between the Eastern and Western cultures opened the space to continuous interactions. As a consequence, today a great number of ethnic groups live in Turkey, although only three of them (Greeks, Armenians, and Jews) are officially recognized as ethnic minorities. We have found that the number of tourists visiting destinations inhabited by ethnic minorities is on the rise, although it is difficult to determine exactly to what extent ethnic characteristics motivate tourists to visit Turkey, as in many places, ethnic tourism is intertwined with other types of tourism such as events, festivals, religious celebrations, and visits to sacred spaces as well as with visits of friends and relatives. However, this chapter will show that ethnic tourism has great potential for development, although a number of political and social factors may for now hinder the success of ethnic tourism in Turkey. Besides having an important impact on tourism development and on promoting a country as a tourism destination, ethnic tourism could have an important contribution to the development of relations between nations and countries. In Turkey, ethnic tourism could be used to remove the prejudices the majority population may have against different ethnic and religious minorities in the country. The messages of “peace” and “friendship and dialogue among civilizations”, repeated during the visits of ethnic tourists, may remind Turkey that it should assume stronger roles as the host in the dialogue among civilizations.