The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a joint project with Jolly, one of Turkey’s prominent travel and leisure agencies, to promote sustainable tourism in Turkey.
As part of the Mirasım Türkiye (My Heritage Turkey) campaign launched two years ago, the project will focus on raising awareness about sustainable tourism, child-friendly tourism and the importance of cultural heritage.
The Mirasım Türkiye campaign aims to preserve the rich heritage of Turkey and pass it on to future generations.
"We have set out on a long-term journey with Jolly," Mustafa Ali Yurdupak, the UNDP's Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Portfolio manager (PPI), said at a launch meeting in Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya on Thursday.
Yurdupak underlined the importance of acting with an environmentally sensitive tourism approach to preserve the country's valuable heritage.
"I believe that we can create a wide-ranging awareness in Turkey with various activities that we will carry out by adopting sustainable tourism principles and achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)," Yurdupak stressed.
The UNDP sees the project as just the beginning, leading to much deeper collaborations, he noted.
Citing global figures, Yurdupak pointed out that tourism generates 10% of the world's GDP and creates employment for one person in 10.
"Minimizing the costs of tourism on our society, environment and our cultural and natural heritage and maximizing the contribution of this sector to the local economy are our priorities in the context of sustainable tourism," he underlined.
Mete Vardar, Jolly's chairperson, said the company has been working to promote Turkey's rich cultural heritage for 30 years.
"There is a lot to do to preserve the natural and cultural values for future generations," the chairperson said.
Vardar also said Jolly has made significant investments in the last three years to promote the natural, historical and cultural values of Turkey and contribute to regional employment.
"Now we are even more excited. We are starting a cooperation with UNDP Turkey to raise awareness about sustainable tourism, and being responsible tourists," he said.
The CEO stressed the campaign will reach 250,000 children through training programs and workshops.
Jolly's marketing director, Yasemin Develioğlu, said the project will educate children about the rich history, culture and biological wealth of Turkey.
The primary direct beneficiaries of this project will be children and their families as well as tourism businesses and travel agencies run or owned by women, according to the UNDP.
Focusing on children and increasing their awareness about sustainable tourism will change the family's views on sustainability issues and ultimately society will be positively affected, the U.N. body suggested.
The pandemic slashed Turkey’s tourism revenues by two-thirds last year, reflecting the heavy toll from rolling global travel restrictions, stay-home orders and the closures of restaurants and hotels that peaked in the second quarter of 2020.
Turkey relies on tourists to bring in foreign currency that helps decrease the current account deficit. But last year, the sector’s revenues dropped 65.1% year-on-year to $12.06 billion (TL 88.19 billion) from $34.5 billion in 2019.