Turkey

Blue Wave is surging forward in Fethiye

IMG_0840Turkey’s Gulf of Fethiye and surrounding coastline is one of the most popular sailing areas along the Turkish coast. Walking along Fethiye’s harbour you have what seems as an endless choice of boats offering daily excursions to explore the 12 islands in the bay. It really is a boating paradise with crystal clear water, green pine forests that meet the sea, and quiet beaches.  If your bucket list is anything like mine, there is nowhere else to be – you can swim with turtles in crystal clear waters in the morning, and explore the ancient ruins of inland Fethiye in the afternoon.

I’m very excited to report that six months into my new role at the Travel Foundation, the momentum of Blue Wave educational activities are surging forward. A key objective of this project is to improve the understanding and awareness of threats to the marine environment from marine tourism.  Blue Wave partners meet this week to finalise the content for the Bay of Fethiye education map, and once printed it will be distributed throughout the sector. The map will provide tourists with information about the region, and tell them how they can help to protect the marine environment on their boat trip.

IMG_0876We’re also developing and finalising content for the ‘Sustainable Practices for Sailing Yachts and Motorboats’ guide. This guide will be printed and distributed to local marinas and boat owners, to help them understand how they can improve their practices.

Already though, a Blue Wave partner is sharing best practice by opening up their training sessions to smaller marina boat crew. It’s great to see the boating community in the region collaborating to help protect the marine environment, the very thing their business depends on.

Find out more about Blue Wave here >

_MG_7410Written by Jane Rowan, Destination Programme Officer, Travel Foundation.

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Best practice now common practice for 15 Fethiye hotels

taste of Fethiye logo300After five years support, we’re almost ready to stand back from the Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey. The project is now on the verge of being handed over to local organisations. FETAV (Fethiye Tourism, Education, Environment and Culture Promotion) have already taken over organisation of the Taste of Fethiye Craft Fairs, and we’re busy working on agreeing responsibilities that will be handed over to local organisations who will continue to run the Taste of Fethiye brand in future.

LD6H2217The wholesalers that were involved in the project from the beginning are still working with almost all the Taste of Fethiye farmers, which is hugely important to ensure future success. We also had a great increase in involvement from hotels last year, which had a great influence on production and sales.

 

Fifteen hotels are still purchasing Taste of Fethiye produce, which tells us after all these years of hard work, purchasing local fresh fruit and vegetables from Taste of Fethiye has become a part of their day-to-day business practice.

 

So, it seems that it IS possible to integrate small, local suppliers into the mainstream tourism supply chain. Myself and Vicky are currently working on an impact assessment report for the project, and I look forward to sharing all that stats with you soon.

SemsiProfileWritten by Semsi Toprak, Programme Co-ordinator, Fethiye (Turkey)

Read more about the Taste of Fethiye project.

What’SUP with our Blue Wave project?

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Semsi Toprak paddle boarding in the Fethiye-Gocek Special Environmental Protection Area

The Blue Wave Project takes place in the Fethiye-Gocek Special Environmental Protection Area located in southwest Turkish Mediterranean coast. A working group consisting of cross sector representation from all the stakeholders (marinas, bays, private boat operators, NGOs, local authorities) Chamber of Shipping, TURMEPA – environmental NGO, D-Marin- a private marina group and the Travel Foundation are responsible for delivering the project and co-ordinating activities. The project aims to improve the level of sustainable practices carried out within the sector and amongst tourists, creating a cleaner and more appealing tourism product.

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Around the coast there are around 40 bays or islands that visitors can enjoy. One of the main reasons why tourists visit is to enjoy the beautiful marine environment, with most tourists taking a least one boat trip during their stay. However, the increasing popularity of marine recreation threatens to destroy the very thing that supports the economy of the region – the environment.

Last week I went on a four day solo stand-up paddling (SUP) board tour around Fethiye-Gocek bays and Islands. This was the first time that a person was making a multi-day SUP excursion around that coast, and the idea was to spread the word about the Blue Wave Project to tourist boats and establishments on bays and islands. I paddled about 30 miles; talking to tourists, boat operators and restaurant owners on the way, while demonstrating one of the lowest impact ways of sea travel.

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People were mostly interested in how I was able to carry all I would need including the food that would last four days on a paddleboard. This is one of the ways to demonstrate how minimalist you should think while sailing or traveling with a motor boat. You are there with hundreds of other species sharing the same environment, and being solo and interacting with all that marine and land wildlife made me feel like a real outsider.

 

SemsiProfileWritten by Semsi Toprak, Programme coordinator, Fethiye

Read more about Blue Wave.

Foodie for thought

Ben Peru

I recently spoke at the UNWTO’s World Summit on Gastronomy Tourism in Lima, where our Taste of Fethiye project was held up as best practice.

Taste of Fethiye is not your classic example of gastronomy tourism. Our starting point was how to link small, local farmers to the tourism supply chain. Rather than seeking to attract new “foodie” tourists, we worked within a well-established, mainstream tourism setting.

After listening to food tourism experts from around the world, it became clear that the main hallmarks and benefits of this kind of tourism are that it supports a local supply chain and creates a cultural experience between visitor and host that is hard to beat.LD6H2645

Whilst our main success in Fethiye has been proving that small suppliers can link to big tourism, the project has also done much to create new food experiences, engage customers and support cultural heritage.

For instance, as well as holding many “local food” nights in the hotels, chefs have felt inspired to offer more Turkish cuisine on their menus. We developed food-themed self-guided driving tours (booklets and app) to encourage tourists to explore the rural area and spend locally, and an excursion which visits one of the farms. A Taste of Fethiye local food and craft fair provides a focus for celebrating local enterprises and traditions.

While Taste of Fethiye may not be a typical approach to gastronomy tourism, it has delivered similar results. Thanks to the UNWTO for recognising the importance of the project – both as a Ulysses Award for Innovation finalist, and at the World Summit.

– Ben Lynam, Head of Communications

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Making waves in Fethiye

LD6H8867Earlier this year I joined the Travel Foundation, and currently manage programmes in Turkey and Cyprus…

I am particularly excited about Blue Wave, which aims to improve sustainable boating practice in the Muğla region. This part of Turkey is well known for its pristine coastline, but is experiencing increasing demand on its marinas and bays.

With a high level of engagement and support from local stakeholders – private, public and the municipalities – Blue Wave is bringing together stakeholders with the shared goal of strengthening sustainable marine practices. This will include work such as training for staff, information for tourists, sustainable action plans for bays and so on.

The project is contributing to the development of Fethiye as a sustainable tourism destination, while also building on the Taste of Fethiye project, which increased the benefits farmers gain from tourism and encouraged good farming practices.

For the upcoming season, a Blue Wave stakeholder is planning to support Taste
of Fethiye farmers by sourcing the fruit and vegetables for one of its tours from them. This can only encourage other stakeholders to follow suit.

Although strengthening sustainability can take time, local stakeholders in Fethiye are actively collaborating, sharing and implementing best practices. Could we ask for more? 

Jane Rowan, Destinations Programme OfficerJane Rowan

Florida sustainability conference gets a Taste of Fethiye

Taste of Fethiye Project coordinator Semsi Toprak Semsi Toprakrecently held a break-out session in the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference North America (ESTCNA), the first major sustainable tourism conference following the adoption of the United Nations Sustainability Goals and the outcomes of COP 21 Climate Change negotiations.

The conference was organised by The International Ecotourism Society and hosted by the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Transforming Our World Through Sustainable Solutions’.

I can’t tell you how good it was to be able to speak about the project that far from home. Seeing the interest – and even surprise – on people’s faces was worth the trip.

Semsi’s session took place within the ‘Sustainable Food’ theme and was well attended by an international group consisting of tourism professionals, travel writers, private companies and academics.

It was amazing to see the audience’s interest. One question followed another, until at last we got a nod from the moderator to end the session. Once again I was very proud to be part of this unique project, which presents an ideal example for the tourism industry.

– Semsi Toprak, Project Coordinator

> Find out more about Taste of Fethiye

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Music, food and craft in Fethiye

kaya3Our Taste of Fethiye project brings hotels and producers together to ensure tourists can enjoy fresh local food while benefiting the region’s agricultural industry. In May the project saw its largest celebration to date, with the popular biannual craft fair turning into a music festival, bringing culture and gastronomy together.

“Taste of Fethiye craft fair has become one of the most looked for attractions in Kaya Village both by the locals and visitors,”

Says Semsi Topak, from our overseas team.

“We’ve cooperated with Fethiye Promotion and Introduction Foundation (FETAV) to organize the craft fair as an event that would be also a part of 8th Fethiye Festival. Musicians including Los Vegabundos, Scott Jeffers and Ahmet Erarslan cleared the rust in the audience’s ears.”

“This year Fethiye Mayor Behcet Saatci visited the craft fair with his deputy Mete Atay. They were very happy with the ongoing overall success of the Taste of Fethiye project and called for a meeting to talk about the future and sustainability of the project in more detail.”

His colleague Vicky Erdogan added:

“The weather was stunning, blue skies and warm but not too hot and the stallholders enjoyed the day and made good sales. We had the most stalls booked to date… 100 tables selling a range of handmade items from wood carvings, felt hats, jewelry, painted pebbles, ceramics to local food such as stuffed vine leaves and pastries.

Many stall holders asked ‘why can’t we do this every month?’.

Working in partnership with the Fethiye Festival was a good opportunity for the craft fair and I also believe added an extra dimension to the festival too… hopefully this partnership can continue each May.”

Fethiye farmers step closer to a sustainable future

taste of Fethiye logo300Since 2010, our Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey has been working to increase the benefits farmers in gain from tourism, and encourage good farming practise.

Having successfully increased produce yields, the project looked to assist farmers with the sale of produce to hoteliers, and other businesses, through a wholesaler under the ‘Taste of Fethiye’ brand. Now in it’s final year of Travel Foundation funding, project stakeholders have significantly begun to step-up activities in preparation for ownership after 2015.

Having seen the value in fresh, local produce, the wholesaler (through which the ToF produce is sold) has produced its own marketing materials for ToF branded fruit and vegetables. This includes printed materials such as letterheads and purchase agreements, and new van livery that includes the ToF logo. This is a really positive step towards self-sufficiency.

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Below we hear from Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler…

“We have been working with the Taste of Fethiye project for 4 years and we are very happy with the progress. After all these years we feel ourselves as a big family with farmers, project manager and hoteliers. We are receiving quality products from the farmers and delivering them to hotels as fresh as possible.

We see the increasing interest from the hoteliers too. Every year we are increasing our sales with new hotel agreements. As the company owner I always thought that we are very much lacking in marketing and communication.  With the help of Taste of Fethiye project we feel that we’ve improved our communication and marketing skills. With the story behind and successful improvements through the years, this project gives us the tremendous opportunity to communicate more with our customers.

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Becoming a runner up in UWTO Ulysses Awards was fascinating and we were very proud to play a part in that. We wanted to promote the Taste of Fethiye brand more because the interest towards the project is increasing very rapidly we wanted to stress our involvement. After all as a service provider, working with this unique project is helping us to grow our business.”

The ToF project has been working with 29 farmers throughout 6 villages, who are now supplying produce (via the wholesaler) to hotels and businesses throughout the Fethiye region. To read more on this project, click here.

Back to the Sea - fish

Award-winning sustainable fishing

We are pleased to announce that the Mediterranean Conservation Society (MCS) / Fauna and Flora International (FFI) project, “Towards Community Based Conservation, Gokova Bay”, won a 2014 UNDP Equator Initiative Award. The project was commended for promoting local sustainable development solutions for people and nature.

In response to marine ecosystem degradation, declining fish stocks, and associated losses to fishermen’s incomes, the Mediterranean Conservation Society (MCS) created a network of ‘no fishing zones’ along the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey that put local fishing communities in the lead of marine biodiversity conservation.

This was complemented by the TF/FFI project, Back to the Sea, which offered local fishermen, operating in Gokova Bay, relevant training and capacity building to offer traditional fishing tourism excursions to visitors, while fish stocks replenished .

“We want to help ecosystem restoration and not to catch more fish as a livelihood. Traditional Fishing Tourism is a great tool for us from now on to share our experience and culture with tourists.”

– Ercument and Semra Altinsoy, a fisher couple who have now retired from fishing to focus on developing boutique tours and better support the No Fishing Zones 

Traditional Fishing Tourism is now demonstrating important alternative livelihood options for local fishing communities.

UNWTO award accolade for Taste of Fethiye project

At the 11th UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism on January 28th, the Taste of Fethiye project was 1st runner up in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations category. This a huge achievement, especially given the tough competition, and celebrates the work that has taken place since the projects inception in 2010.

award_001Vicky Erdogan and Semsi Toprak, from the project team based in Turkey, attended the awards ceremony in Madrid.

Semsi, Production and Supply Chain Manager, Taste of Fethiye, said “In the last couple of years we have had great experiences with the Taste of Fethiye project and attending the UNWTO Award Ceremony as a finalist was maybe the highlight of these. Learning more about the other shortlisted projects and meeting with all these inspiring finalists from all over the world were awesome experiences. UNWTO’s Award members of the ceremony organization team were also great hosts. I feel proud that I was able to represent my country and the Travel Foundation at such a respectable event.”

Vicky, Hotels and Marketing Manager, Taste of Fethiye, added “Well it certainly was a night to remember and we were honored to be standing there amongst all those innovative projects from around the world. I felt privileged not only to be representing the Taste of Fethiye project but also the Travel Foundation which is positively striving to be the bridge connecting tourism and sustainability.”

You can see some pictures from the awards ceremony here, and read about the winners of each category here.

More about the project…

Launched in 2010, the Taste of Fethiye project saw collaboration between Travel Foundation, Co-operative Travel, Thomson, First Choice and Thomas Cook. The project was developed primarily to assist farmers in the Fethiye area of Turkey  improve the benefits they gain from tourism and to encourage good farming practise. In practise, the project has seen increased productivity and fresh, local produce being supplied to local hotels, with the benefits being felt by farmers and hoteliers alike. Read more here >