Tourism sector of Kars will be strengthened

01 Apr 2009


Inception workshop for the “Alliances for Cultural Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” United Nations Joint Programme funded by Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund was organized in Kars on 5 March 2009.

New Horizons - The objectives, proposed activities of the programme and the expectations of local stakeholders were discussed during the workshop with the participation of representatives from the related United Nations Agencies (UNDP, UNESCO, UNWTO and UNICEF), Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the funding Spanish Government. 

Opening remarks by Deputy Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme Ulrika Richardson-Golinski, were followed by speeches from Counselor of Spanish Embassy Maria Molina Alvadrez de Toledo, Deputy General Directorate of Directorate of Investment and Establishments Ali Ağbal, Kars Mayor Naif Alibeyoğlu and Governor of Kars Mehmet Ufuk Erden.

Richardson-Golinski welcomed the participants of the workshop and indicated that the ownership of the local administration and the citizens and the leadership of Ministry of Culture and Tourism are the key factors for the sustainability of the project. Having explained the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, she also mentioned the role of Spanish Government as a partner as well as a donor.

Alvadrez de Toledo specified the significance of tourism activities for Spanish economy, especially by emphasizing the importance of the mobilization of cultural assets as a catalyst for generating tourism potential in the Spanish Case. She also underlined the role of Turkey as a strategic partner to Spain in many industries including Tourism and the potentials of the Kars region especially from a culture oriented point of view. Deputy Director Ağbal also pointed out that in addition to the invaluable historical and cultural heritage of the Kars region, Kars has a significant potential for the winter tourism.

Following the speech of Mayor of Kars Naif Alibeyoglu on the multicultural structure and local cultural assets of Kars,  Governor of Kars Mehmet Ufuk Erden stated that in addition to being a cultural bridge within the region, Kars also owns tangible cultural heritage assets such as Ani and 331 registered civic architecture examples. Erden also said that Kars is one of the six “Women friendly cities” in Turkey and the existing and proposed developments will take place not only with the participation of government organizations, but also with other stakeholders including NGOs and local actors. He also made a reference to the Brand City Action Plan prepared for Kars, which lays out the list of projects to strengthen the ‘Kars Brand’ for tourism.

Subsequent to the opening remarks, Programme Manager Neşe Çakır presented the details of the “Alliances for Cultural Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” United Nations Joint Programme.

Şeyhmus Dinçel of Mardin Local Agenda 21 introduced the experiences of Mardin, which is a good example of cultural tourism development driven by local people. Presenting two key factors for mobilization of cultural tourism as local ownership and commitment to regional potentials, Dinçel also presented the effects of rapid urban transformation especially for the last fifteen years in the city. He also emphasized that, with increased awareness of cultural potential among local stakeholders, the trend of unplanned urbanization is now reversed.

In the second part of the workshop, Deputy Governor Doğan Demirdaş and Zeynep Şahin from the Directorate of Investment and Establishments of Ministry of Culture and Tourism presented an assessment of Kars within the Brand City concept. An evaluation of the correspondence of Kars Brand City Action Plan and the Joint Programme outputs has also been included in this section. 

Final presentations were made on the possible support channels and partnerships which will be provided by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Having presented the input of each agency, the workshop progressed with two working groups on the evaluation of culture and tourism in Kars.

The inception workshop was attended by the representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the government partner of the Joint Programme, State Planning Organization, local authorities from Kars as well as business and civil society representatives from Kars. The workshop was instrumental in re-confirming the cultural potential of Kars, the commitment of local stakeholders for strengthening their competitiveness in cultural tourism and to emphasize linkages with the government strategies and priorities.