Turkey, UN agency team up to promote sustainable tourism

Turkey’s largest association of travel agencies on Tuesday took a big step in promoting sustainable tourism in the country in partnership with a United Nations agency.

The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a memorandum of understanding in Istanbul “to build a strong long-term future” for Turkey’s tourism sector.

Under the deal, the UNDP and the TURSAB will launch an awareness campaign across Turkey and provide comprehensive training programs on sustainable tourism for travel agencies.

For Firuz Baglikaya, head of the TURSAB, the primary aim of the cooperation is to minimize the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and create a healthy model to preserve the cultures, cuisine, handicrafts, traditions and customs of local people.

“Sustainability emerged as an instrumental concept that incorporates many approaches that would allow countries to overcome several challenges of the era,” Baglikaya told reporters after the signing ceremony.

In his view, income inequality and regional economic turmoils top the problems of the current period, while the resources on the planet are draining away rapidly.

“Sustainability is helping countries to meet the growing needs of people without disturbing the ecological and biologic balance,” Baglikaya remarked.

Sukhrob Khojimatov, deputy resident representative of UNDP Turkey, said the world’s economy, society and next generations would move forward totally in a different path through sustainability.

He said Turkey is a pioneer and leader in the development of tourism in Europe and Central Asia and would share its experiences with other countries in terms of establishing diversified tourism projects through the mechanism of sustainability.

“Not only in the field of sea tourism but also ethnic tourism, eco-tourism, sports tourism and medical tourism,” he added.

Under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 17 sustainable development goals officially came into force at the beginning of 2016, calling on countries to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.