Cultural Tourism in Turkey: A Missed Opportunity

Fevzi Okumus, University of Central Florida
Umut Avci
Izzet Kilic
Andrew Walls


This article analyzes tourism plans and policies related to cultural tourism in Turkey. Past and current tourism plans and policy documents, as well as discourses of government officials, were content analyzed. The research findings indicate that Turkey has been positioned as more a sun, sea, and sand destination than a cultural destination. According to the State Planning Organization's Five-Year Development Plans, as well as past and current tourism plans for Turkey such as Tourism Vision 2023, cultural tourism is seen more as an alternative and secondary type of tourism for Turkey. One can claim that this is perhaps a missed opportunity for Turkey given its rich and unique cultural resources, since Turkey can offer unique, positive, and memorable cultural experiences for culture-core and culture-peripheral tourists. In order to achieve this, it is essential to symbolize and rejuvenate unique cultural resources so that innovative cultural capabilities (experiences) can be offered. In return, such original and vibrant experiences can better differentiate Turkey as a destination from its competitors. The article provides theoretical and practical implications and suggests areas for future research.