Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Evaluation of the Sustainability of Tourism in Ihlara Valley and Suggestions

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Evaluation of the Sustainability of Tourism in Ihlara Valley and Suggestions

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

With its potential to develop, tourism can be defined as the main drive of the world economy as the second biggest industry after petroleum industry in the world and this makes tourism an important part of sustainable development (Fennell, 2003; Hunt, 2009).

The sustainable tourism approach was started to be popularly used with the adaptation of Brundtland Report into the sector by academicians and tourism professionals (Hall and Lew, 1998). When the sustainable tourism is regarded as the adaptation of the concept of sustainability into tourism in compliance with Brundtland Report, it can be defined as "as a type of tourism meeting the needs of tourists and local people without preventing the satisfaction of the needs of the future generations" (Swarbrooke, 1999). But, the most widely used short definition of the sustainable tourism is proposed by The World Tourism Organization (WTO, 2010); "The sustainable tourism means development and protection of the opportunities for the future while meeting the needs of today's tourists and host regions."

The sustainable tourism approach can be explained on the basis of three components: Economic, social and environmental (Butler, 2000). From economic point of view, sustainability can be summarized as the minimization of the harms and costs stemming from tourism and optimization of the benefits of it; equal sharing of the benefits of the tourism among the individuals of societies particularly having low socio-economic status and supporting of the local economies in the local community (Butler, 1999). Environmental sustainability requires the protection of the environment not only for the sustainability of tourism but also for the maintenance of the life (Hall and Lew, 1998). Socio-cultural sustainability in general is related to the local population that is viewed to be culture manufacturer of the society (Pineda and Brebbia, 2004).

Though there are various studies conducted to evaluate the sustainability of tourism in a specific area, there are no universally agreed criteria to be used to evaluate the sustainability. Gebhard et al., (2008) used community well-being, protection of the natural and cultural environment, product quality and tourist satisfaction and management and monitoring as the criteria to evaluate the sustainability of tourism in an area (Somuncu and Yigit, 2009). If these criteria are met or satisfied for an area, then the tourism in the area is considered to be sustainable (Gebhard et al., 2008; Somuncu and Yigit, 2009). The characteristics of the criteria used to evaluate sustainability are also explained as follows (Gebhard et al., 2008; Somuncu ve Yigit, 2009):

Community well-being: Development of sustainable tourism supports the economic, social and cultural development of the local people. The sub-criteria of this main criterion include some processes ranging from the development of income level to the development of local traditions.

Protection of the natural and cultural environment: While sustainable tourism allows the exploitation of the natural and cultural resources for economic benefits, it ensures the protection of these resources at the same time.

Product quality and tourist satisfaction: The quality of the product offered in a tourist area is a key factor for the success of tourism economy. The evaluation of this quality should not be based on only the evaluation of the quality of concrete criteria such as transportation, accommodation and food and beverage but also on the evaluation of abstract criteria such as hospitality of local people and the quality of tourist experiences.

Management and monitoring: For the above mentioned three criteria to be met in an area, management and monitoring criterion is required. Though it may be assumed that sustainable tourism can be achieved without a management and monitoring system, it is impossible in practice. Therefore, the management and monitoring system is responsible for the fulfillment of the other criteria. …

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