TWO NEW EXAMPLES IN CREATING ROUTE DIVERSITY IN TURKISH TOURISM: TUNCELİ AND HAKKÂRİ

The tourism is a phenomenon comprised of three important features: It has to be profitable, sustainable and responsible.

Tourism in Turkey has “comparative advantages” in economic terms. As a person designing around 200 tours in Istanbul and around 180 tours in Turkey, organizing around 300 tours to around 130 countries in the seven continents of the world, visiting and guiding people in their tours to these places, the natural, historical and cultural values in Turkey do not exist in any place in the world. Thanks to its multilayer, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-language structure, its unique geography on two continents and unique history, Turkey has to be the top of the “indispensable list” of the lifelong travel programme of a world traveller.

Our duty has to be the improvement of the cultural tourism having the “comparative advantages” feature in the economy as stated in short above both in the fields of internal and external tourism without decreasing the real tourism income generated from the items forming the total in tourism and ensuring that Turkey attracts more travellers and spend due time to visit Turkey with a high quality and distinguished tourism approach.

Our agencies strive for transforming the “cheap country” image to the “cultural country” image, bringing the “call to the travellers” before the “call to the tourists” and adding the other types of tourism to the “cultural tourism”. Therefore, they spend efforts to ensure that Turkey gets the place it deserves in “internal tourism”.

Our Current Important Goal: Diversification of Routes

The diversification of routes is one of the most important problems of both domestic and international tourism. For instance, Istanbul: A 1.5-day tour is organized for foreign travellers for long years. In fact, to get a real impression from the city, the travellers visiting Istanbul have to spend 6 to 7 nights not 2 to 3 nights in Istanbul.

Therefore, the diversification of routes in Istanbul is now a top agenda item. Recommendations are made to ensure that foreign tourists visit Istanbul, not for 1.5 days but more.  We can provide 15 to 20 tours to the foreign travellers out of 200 daily tours in Istanbul created for local travellers. We strive to create necessary logistics conditions, signalization and routes.

We should also try to stay away from focusing on certain areas in domestic tourism experiencing a fast boost. We should not let some locations stepped on unnecessarily. We should create various routes and diversify tourism with long term plans with a sustainable tourism approach.

A new route: Tunceli

In this general framework, we have started tours for Tunceli-Munzur Valley last year and tours for Hakkari this year in the last thirty years during which we have promoted many areas in Turkey. The results of both tours are successful until now.  Thanks to the successful results, Turkish Airlines magazine Skylife has taken into consideration the tours organized to Tunceli last year and in the first half of this year and observed the positive developments there and published an article titled “A New Favorite Destination for Tourists” written by a foreign author about this new route in July 2019.

Tunceli is now nearly the only greenest and non-concrete region of Turkey.

You can go to Tunceli via Elazığ and return from Erzincan or vice versa. You need to spend a nearly full day in Munzur Valley. Some of the places you can see in this tour are: Tunceli with Munzur Valley National Park is one of the most important national parks with around 1550 types of plants, 227 of which are endemic for Turkey and 43 of which for Munzur Mountains, its Djemevis and being the heart of Dersim Alevism, Ovacık with its headwaters and extraordinary nature, Mazgirt and Çemişgezek with their historic buildings, Pülümür with its valley and beach, and Pertek with Hozat Bazaar and Ergen Church, castle and dam. Tahar Bridge, Uzun Hasan Tomb, Yelmaniye Mosque, İn Caves, Alevi homes, Sağman Mosque, gravestones engraved with the head of a ram and many others await for you… You can take beautiful photos on the route.

Tunceli has a tempting nature with its fascinating mountainous geography, villages with a low population, the surrounding flora, low population, streams running from every corner and many headwaters.

With its Pülümür and Pertek thermal springs, Ovacık Ski resort, the beach on the shore of Pülümür River, Munzur River, interesting places to visit including especially Düzgün Baba Dervish Lodge, Tunceli has the potential for tourism events for 12 months with the thermal tourism, winter tourism, rafting, hiking, photo-safari, flora tours and belief tourism. R4 International Rafting Championship was organized in Tunceli in 2019. 19th Munzur Culture and Nature Festival was held in July.

TÜRSAB to Organize Tunceli Tourism Workshop

Tunceli with historical roots dating back to the Palaeolithic age and ruins from the Hurrians and the Urartians now witness more and more efforts in the field of history. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Archaeologist Yasemin Yılmaz conducted surface surveys at Düzce University for two years under the sponsorship of FEST Travel, a member of TÜRSAB (Association of Turkish Travel Agencies), with the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.  The magnificent military post constructed by the Germans in 1937 has been restored as Tunceli Museum which will be opened soon.

Tourism in Tunceli is modelled after a local demand for the first time without any international factors. This is really an important development. Tunceli region will also become the star of the future for foreign travellers.

Of course, tourism may experience some problems as it develops in Tunceli. Therefore, tourism in Tunceli has to be discussed as soon as possible. TÜRSAB Board of Directors decided to organize a Tunceli Tourism Workshop in October. This workshop will share the vision, strategy and tactics of Tunceli tourism and discuss the infrastructure and transportation problems. Special subjects such as supporting especially the hand works of the women, strengthening the souvenir production and gastronomy sector will be discussed at the workshop.

A New Route: Hakkâri Route

We have mentioned Hakkâri as the second alternative route but we will not discuss it here alone. That is because Hakkâri has not a route of its own as a single destination city. Hakkâri can be visited as part of a larger route. Batman-Silvan-Siirt-Cizre-Şırnak-Hakkâri. For such a tour, you can fly to Diyarbakır or Batman and return from Van. Or vice versa.

You can see the historical locations in Silvan; Hasuni Caves, one of the oldest caves of Anatolia; Malabadi Bridge, a magnificent Artuqid work being the world’s largest arch bridge dating back to the middle ages; Veysel Karani Tomb visited by thousands of people every year; Deliklitaş Canyon; tombs in Tillo; villages of Ezidis being one of the not well-known civilizations of the Middle East and Anatolia; Assyrian villages with graveyard, churches and monasteries; and the historical buildings of Cizre.

You can experience Cezeri and Dengbej cultures. You can also learn about the Assyrians, Nestorians, Ezidis, Arabs, Kurds…  You can see Hakkari with its high and majestic mountains, deep valleys, glacial lakes and snow-covered peaks, high waterfalls, steep slopes, interesting houses, colourful herbs and flowers, snow and the wild.

Çukurca Castle, Çukurca houses, Meydan Madrasah in the centre, Zap Valley, Saint Bartholomeus Armenian Church in Albayrak Village are among the other beauties of Hakkâri and its surrounding area. Tourism in Hakkâri will boost with the opening of Mount Cilo to touristic visits. The 2nd Çukurca Photo Safari and Nature Festival was organized in May 2019. Restoration of Çukurova houses, estimated to date back to 400 years, has been started.

Turkish cultural tourism has earned two new tourism routes with Tunceli and Hakkari.