Turkey: Alliances for Culture Tourism (ACT) in Eastern Anatolia
Provinces of Eastern Anatolia are the poorest in Turkey, with human development levels far below national averages. Some 30% of people in Kars were estimated to be below the poverty line when the Joint Programme was launched there in 2008, almost twice the national average. The Joint Programme mobilized the culture sector in east Anatolia as a way to increase incomes and enhance the sense of a “shared” culture between the people of eastern Anatolia and of neighboring countries, and among people of different faiths.
Specifically, the programme's objective was: to implement pro-poor tourism development policies within a framework of social cohesion and integration policies, by fostering pluralism, a dialogue of cultures and the establishment of a culture of peace within Eastern Anatolia and with peoples of neighbouring countries.
Main achievements included:
- The Programme built the capacities of managers of cultural assets, local authorities and civil society in eastern Anatolia to protect the region's rich cultural heritage while also implementing sustainable tourism practices by providing business development services in various sectors.
- The Tourism Strategy Document for Kars, with the vision of promoting the region as a centre for natural and cultural tourism, was developed and approved by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. A complete audit was carried out on Kars Province’s tourism facilities and services, and a system for the digitization of tangible cultural heritage in Kars is fully operational. A final draft of the Ani Site Management Plan was developed.
- Trainings were held to develop the capacities of relevant stakeholders on the management of cultural heritage sites, preparation of management plans and entrepreneurship to increase income from tourism-related activities.
- Kars tourism was supported through marketing and awareness activities, the mapping of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the establishment of the Kars Culture House, and activities to safeguard the Minstrelsy tradition. Children’s Museum Rooms were established in Kars and Erzurum, and a Children’s Museum Training Programme was developed and carried out in nine provinces.
- The programme significantly developed national and local capacities in the sector of cultural heritage safeguarding and cultural, winter and nature tourism. Significant linkages between local and national stakeholders were created.
- The foundations for a “model for strategic direction, prioritization and safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and cultural tourism delivery in Kars” was established.
- The programme's work to raise local and national awareness of cultural heritage in Kars was a driving factor for economic growth and development, community building and the empowerment of women. At the end of the programme, local authorities and civil society were able to identify and manage shared culture assets in line with international norms, and to respect the way that people in other countries, from other backgrounds or of different faiths than their own value those cultural assets. Similarly, an increased understanding of shared culture was achieved at the national level.