Turkish Tourism Drive Threatens Ancient Sites

In the past few years, Turkey has been trying to increase their tourism by primarily focusing on upgrading their hotels in larger cities and buying more planes for their airlines.  They have also been trying to increase tourism through religion, by attempting to re

Ancient pots were discovered in 2006 at the site of the Marmaray Project, aimed at building a tunnel under the Boshporus straits in Istanbul

store many of the early Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sites around their nation, and through the restoration of early architectural sites.    One problem that they have been having with this is that it is becoming more difficult to acquire permits.  When making a statement about this issue, Stephen Mitchell, the honorary secretary of the British Institute of Ankara, stated that, ” Getting a permit is now a process of negotiation and academic concerns are not always the first priority”.  I believe that the government should try to fix this problem because it could help them to increase tourism and it wouldn’t necessarily be hard to write a law that allowed acquiring a permit to be an easier process.  The biggest problem that they have been facing is that their architectural expansions risk destroying ancient sites and artifacts.  People working on an interchange station in Istanbul found a Byzantine harbor with 32 ships, but the government is not worried about preserving this site.  They are more concerned with getting the construction of the interchange station back on track.  The Turkish prime minister expressed his annoyance about this matter and others similar to it when in a speech in February he said that he was getting tired of “bits of old potsherds” that were interfering with large architectural projects and that the “People should come first”.  I believe that he was right that the people should come first, but allowing construction workers to destroy ancient artifacts, that could lead to large revenue in the future, is not necessarily helping the people.  Many Turkish archaeologists believe that tourism can improve drastically through restoring sites around the country.  Mehmet Ozdogan, one of the Turkey’s most renowned archaeologists wrote a 365 page critique, where he stated that “recent policies have been more concerned with policing scholarship than confronting the wholesale erosion of Turkey’s vast heritage”.  It seems that Turkey is trying to take the easy way out of improving tourism by building fancy buildings and sophisticated tunnels.  This will increase tourism, but for how long?  If they were to work to restore all of their religious sites then they could guarantee a steady flow of tourism for a longer period of time. I believe that restoring these religious sites would be beneficial to the country, but with the way things are going now, the government will probably keep focusing on expanding tourism with resorts and more modern architectural sites.

Sources: http://www.eturbonews.com/10264/increase-us-visitors-and-expansion-plans-help-boost-turkey-touri http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Turkish-tourism-drive-threatens-ancient-sites/24682

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One Response to Turkish Tourism Drive Threatens Ancient Sites

  1. taanesta says:

    This problem is a common on in developing countries. It is the standoff between history and progress, and sadly economic forces usually have the upper hand. This is not unjustified either. It is hard to argue the ancient culture should be preserved at the cost of increased welfare for a countries people. A possible solution comes from international organizations like UNESCO. With groups such as UNESCO in control of preservation it allows governments to still focus on development and hopefully compromise.

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