Evaluation of the Sustainability of Tourism in Ihlara Valley and Suggestions
Study area of the present study, Ihlara Valley is located within the borders of Cappadocia region in central Anatolia. With its physical structure and cultural landscape, Ihlara Valley is an important international tourist destination. In addition to this, the area is under national protection as a specially protected environment area. Churches carved on the rock walls of Ihlara Valley, caves and frescos are some of the cultural landscape values in the region. In the present study, the purpose is to evaluate the sustainability of tourism activities in Ihlara Valley and to develop suggestions for the area to have sustainable tourism. Whether the tourism activities in Ihlara Valley are sustainable or not was evaluated based on the sustainable tourism criteria proposed by Gebhard et al. (2008). These four main criteria include 18 sub-criteria and in the present study, 11 of these criteria were found to have low values, 6 of them have medium values and only 1 of them has a high value and particularly the values found for the sub-criteria involved in the main criterion of management and monitoring are low, which shows that the tourism activities in the region are not sustainable. In the second part of the study, suggestions were developed for tourism to be sustainable in Ihlara Valley by evaluating the protection status of the cultural landscape that is one of the important components of sustainable tourism, tourist satisfaction and development of the local community through analytic hierarchy process method.
Keywords: Sustainable tourism, protection of cultural landscape, sustainable economic development, sustainable tourist satisfaction, local people, analytic hierarchy process