Members of ETİK, including tourism operators, participated in the first international tourism fair of 2024, the Holland Vakantiebeurs Utrecht Tourism Fair. At the fair, they continued their promotional activities with stands and held discussions with European tour operators and tourism components, primarily from the Benelux countries. The ETİK delegation at the fair, including President Mehmet İşler and board members Orhan Belge, Bilge Durdu İşler, and Halil Yeni, identified significant issues that could negatively impact the future of Turkish tourism and brought these to the attention of the public and decision-makers.

Mehmet İşler, also the Deputy President of the Federation of Turkish Hoteliers (TÜROFED), found the fair an opportunity to learn crucial lessons for the future of Turkish tourism. He observed significant changes in Europe's transportation preferences and destination choices, warning that if appropriate actions are not taken, it could have serious consequences for Türkiye. İşler commented:

The Holland Tourism Fair was a pivotal moment for us to rethink our approach. We noticed that European Union countries are now focusing on promoting travel within the Union. They are trying to distribute their financial resources among member countries and have developed convincing narratives for their citizens, advocating for environmentally friendly and nature-respecting tourism models. This approach starts with reducing plastic use and aims to eliminate harmful gas emissions.

"Europe has made significant strides in sustainability"

What caught our attention the most was the decreasing popularity of destinations reachable by air travel and the increased preference for countries with widespread use of electric trains or electric vehicles. While advocating for sustainable tourism, we also witnessed how far they have come in achieving this within their own countries. Based on this, they are determined to justify not sending their citizens to countries outside the Union. This represents a critical and vital threshold for Turkish tourism to overcome. Our tourism stakeholders must urgently obtain Sustainability Certificates in Tourism.

Airlines are expanding Türkiye offers in Germany Airlines are expanding Türkiye offers in Germany

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However, this is not enough. Decision-makers in our country must also promptly adopt measures across all sectors for eco-friendly, nature-respecting practices with zero emission standards. The transition to electric vehicles is one such measure. Railway transportation, especially via electric high-speed trains, will be a significant and decisive factor in this process.

“We need to reset our format”

Considering that air travel-dependent destinations are likely to lose appeal and may even become unsellable, we must reformat ourselves. Although the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has already introduced these criteria for touristic facilities, change cannot be achieved by the tourism sector alone. All sectors must pay attention to this. Otherwise, we risk being left out of the game, knowing that Europe is creating a justifiable reason for itself. We need to plan correctly, take the necessary actions, and not lose the ground we have gained in tourism and other sectors. Acting upon this reality will benefit our country, our industry, and its components.”

Editor: Mehmet Güneli