The photo above is of a group of Turkish trekkers from İzmir, who are planning to walk the whole route. Kate (turquoise t shirt) met them above Kabak Bay.
On 17th April, the Antalya Conservation Commission called a meeting at which the route of the Lycian Way, its extension by the addition of several new routes and the protection of all historic sites and sections of old road along its length was discussed.
Present were members of the Cultural Assets part of the Ministry, representatives of the Forestry Ministry, many archaeologists and representatives of several societies which have interests in or along the route. There were also some people who appeared to represent no-one but themselves and whose place in the proceedings was never explained. Such were Kadir Kaya of Kadir’s tree houses, and Gökhan Göktaş from Tibet Outdoor. Melike Gül, from the Antalya Conservation Commission led with an excellent talk about the history and present condition of the Lycian Way – they have been doing great things to preserve their part of the route.
A representative of Finike Belediyesi spoke about a project which they had carried out – seemingly with no real effect. And Akut (the rescue organisation) spoke about some work they had carried out on a 3km stretch of the route.
Below is the report which we submitted after the meeting. Please do read it as it explains how the society see the future of the route. See the Turkish blog for the Turkish version.
MANAGEMENT OF THE LYCİAN WAY
The Lycian way was founded in 1999 by Kate Clow as a tourism product and consists of a walking route linking 20 ancient cities along the coast of Lycia. The product originally consisted of a guide book and map, plus a route waymarked and signposted to French grande randonnee standards. The Ministry Promotion Dept at a national level has supported the route over a long period.
The Culture Routes Society was founded in 2012 in order to manage all Turkish cultural routes. The Ministry wanted an agency which could act as intermediary between Turkey and Europe.
European Institute of Cultural Routes: 30 countries participate in this organisation’s Enlarged Partial Agreement, and Turkey has agreed to sign up. Once signed, there is an obligation to manage recognised routes in accordance with European principles.
From Europe to Turkey on Foot project: The Society has been awarded EU funds for a one-year project which will be the first stage of extending the Via Francigena from ome to Bari and from Bari across the Balkans to Turkey. In Turkey, three existing routes will be linked to make a route joining Istanbul to the Lycian way.
Improving the Lycian way to international standards project: the society has also applied for funds to extend the LW north to meet the St Paul Trail and to improve signposting all along the route. 3 local authorities will partner us and gradually take over route maintenance in some areas.
Society’s long term trail development plan
The Society’s long term trail development aims are as follows:
- to link Turkey to the international network of trails via the planned trail Rome – Bari – Via Egnatia – Evliya Çelebi Way – Phrygian Way – St Paul Trail – Lycian Way – Demre, and eventually other trails.
- To improve accommodation and other services through education and support of local people, using international trails as our examples.
- To plan new trails via links to the existing trail network. All new trail planning has to include consideration of trekker satisfaction, water, safety, access/transport, accommodation/supplies, as well as conservation and the wishes and abilities of local people.
- To ensure the maintenance and support of all trails by agreements with the Municipalities through which they pass.
FUTURE OF THE LYCİAN WAY
Existimg Turkish legislation is insufficient to protect the route. Under the scope of the EU project we will be preparing a report on methods of legal conservation used in Europe, plus another report on how these could be introduced to turkish law and management bodies.
The Lycian Way is in immediate danger from proposed airport and road construction and mining activities. In the last 5 years, 60mkm of the Lycian Way have been rerouted due to quarries, road construction and other problems. The following project should immediately be stopped:
- quarrying projects within 3km of the LW and other cultural routes.
- proposed Kaş airport (which is within 3 km of the route) and associated major road Works.
The Society would like the authorities to notify them of any proposed activities which might affect the Lycian way – such as tree cutting, road building, permission for quarries, fencing, etc.
In the short term, local control needs to be handed to the local councils. One permanent member of the staff of each council should be made responsible for route coordination and maintenance. They should be assisted by a local person who represents the accommodation providers along the route. This work should be financed by the development agency.
The Conservation Commission should continue the work of placing parts of the route under preservation.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry has an opportunity to promote the routes through UNESCO and the EICR, who have signed a protocol to jointly promote long-distance routes going through or near World Heritage Sites. There are two such sites on the LW, and one on the reserve list.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry should recognise Culture Routes as a tourism product to be legally protected according to international standards recommended in the planned report. Both the Lycian Way, other existing cultural routes and newly planned routes güzergahı planlama, tesçil işleri, su ihtiyaçları, konaklama, ulaşım, bakım ve onarım çalışmalarının yürütülmesini sağlamalıdır. In particular, the Lycian Way requires some new signposts and signs explaining historical sites.
The Ministry should not allow building of new hotels in the Lycia area until plans for cultural routes are fully developed. Sustainable alternative tourism requires small, independent pensions and hotels rather than the large ones – currently, hundreds of hotels are for sale in this area.
So that new routes can be developed before industrial exploitation has irreversably damaged Lycia and other areas valuable for sustainable tourism, the Forestry Ministry should plan countryside development watershed by watershed in line with the landscape convention, which Turkey has signed and has not been implemented.
The new roads and airport planned by the Transport Ministry should be re-examined by their international consultants before they progress any further. In particular, efforts should be made to reach agreement with the Greek authorities on using the existing airport on Meis as a West Antalya airport.
The Lycian Way and other routes need a coordinating committee of all the Ministries.
Antalya Provincial Tourism Management has never taken any action to assist the Society to develop accommodation or to provide training for accommodation providers. Nevertheless at least 74 new pensions have opened along the route and most are serving visitors well and doing good business. This accommodation should be inspected and managed by the local Municipality in accordance with national Tourism Ministry standards.
The Society and the Municipalities in partnership can deliver an education program for pension owners including legal and tax aspects, as well as local history, accommodation and food standards. Kaş local governor has applied for funds to develop a standard program with the Society. This Project can be duplicated along the route.
There is a demand from Eastern Europe/Russia for cheap or free camping sites on much of the route. Camping creates a fire risk, which could cause severe damage to the trail, and brings little economic benefit. Between May and October, the Ministry should encourage campers to use the St Paul Trail or other trails instead.
If a trekker carries a tent, they have no need to stay in accommodation, so the local economy does not benefit. A consistent chain of accommodation is required all along the route. In two high-altitude places, where there is no permanent village, the development agency should provide mountain-type accommodation on the Swiss, New Zealand or American model. This should be a secure locked hut, with cooking facilities and bunk beds. Walkers could rent the key for a fixed number of nights stay, but provide their own food. Such huts are required at: Şahin Tepesi/Finike; Çukuryayla, Tahtalı/Kemer; and in future along new sections of the route.
In other places, such as Kirme/Fethiye, Dodurga/Seydikemer, Letoon-Xanthos/Seydikemer, Fakdere/Kaş, Gelidonya Feneri/Finike, etc, where there is not enough accommodation, unused public buildings such as schools, health centres etc can be refurbished and used.
The Ministry and Local Authorities are responsible for pension standards, but the licencing procedure is very difficult for local people. Some countries don’t require licences where the accommodation has less than 6 beds and we should adopt that model.
The Lycian Way brand:
For 15 years, the founders and the Society has worked to make the Lycian Way into a mature tourism product. It is now branded as an easy-medium difficulty trail with opportunities to swim, excellent scenery and good accommodation/hospitality, aimed at the family and mature market, principally in W. Europe, USA/Canada, Australia, SE Asia, etc. It has taken 15 years for the Lycian way to acquire this brand identity, but various local agencies often damage it by poor-quality attempts at marketing. The Ministry should check media for incorrect information and attempt to correct it.
After these conservation issues are tackled, marketing also needs to be systematically planned. The Lycian Way is a product consisting of a guide book, map, GPS points, iphone app, internet sites, signposts and waymarking (www.cultureroutesinturkey.com. www.trekkinginturkey.com). Antalya Provincial Tourism Management attempted to create their own book and website, causing severe damage, as they did not consult the Society and the route marked on their map was in many places wrong. The Society has excellent maps which the Antalya Provincial Tourism Management can use in advertising material on request.
International marketing channels:
The Lycian way has a high profile amongst international routes. There are very few other coastal walking routes in the World. Those in Europe include: the Cinque Terre Trails /Cinque Terre National Park /Italy; Sifnos Trails/Sifnos /Greece; GR 20 walking route in Corsica/France; but all these are much shorter than the Lycian Way and are not linked the the European Cultural Routes network. None of these routes has a high-profile unique culture like the Lycian culture.
The society has links with the following organisations:
At the moment, the Ministry, the Society and travel agencies do not work together to market the route. We also lack information on user numbers, source country, language, season, accommodation choices, etc. With this market research, using existing branding, we could market the Lycian Way as a package with the other routes in a more systemetic and effective way.
In particular we need to develop links between Turkey’s routes and the Silk Road project, the European Culture Routes, the World Trails Network etc. The Society attends these conferences but doesn’t always have enough money or time to follow up effectively. The Ministry’s European Coordination Dept personnel have changed frequently and we have not had the promised support.
EXTENSIONS TO THE LYCIAN WAY
Networks of day walks
Local networks are useful because they enable walkers to stay in one location and combine day-walks with other activities. They are popular where there is excess accommodation and other local attractions such as diving, paragliding, bicycling, etc. They also can keep mass activities such as marathons and bicycle races off the Lycian Way.
Five attempts have been made to develop local route networks linked to the Lycian Way:
- Fethiye Trekking Routes developed by the Fethiye Chamber of Trade with the support of the development agency. This route network was waymarked and signposted but the guidebooks have never been distributed and the routes are now largely abandoned.
- St Nicholas Routes developed by Beymelek Municipality with support of the development agency. This network was never properly cleared or waymarked, the signs were of poor quality and most of the routes have not been used.
- Kemer Bicycle and Trekking routes developed by Kemer Municipality and Governorship. These routes have been developed over a period of several years by permanent staff with advice from active trekkers/mappers and are now a valuable local tourism resource. Current events on the routes include bicycle and motorbike races, marathons, etc.
- BATAB walking and bicycle routes developed by Konyaaltı Municipality with support from BAKA. These walking routes will form a link between the Lycian Way and Antalya centre; the bicycle routes are based around Konyaaltı’s bicycle hire station.
- Finike Municipality enlivening the Lycian Way Project with support from BAKA – İt’s unlikely that this Project will have any long-term benefits.
We can learn from this experience that one-year developments funds are not a good way to develop routes. Unless local networks are carefully planned and well-managed over a period of several years, they will not be successful. These local networks could be reduced in size, replanned and further developed. There is no point in marketing them until the standards are equivalent to the Lycian Way standards, as they will lead to disappointed walkers.
Lycian High Route
For some time, we have been considering a Lycian High Route, linking the major peaks in Lycia – Baba Dağı, Gömbe Akdağ, Susuz Dağları, Kızlar Sivrisi and Tahtalı. This would directly link the start of the Lycian Way (Ovacik) to one of the most popular places on the route, Çıralı, with a major access point at Gömbe. It would be aimed at experienced backpackers during the summer season – a completely different market from the Lycian Way.
Six proposed routes
Below we note the six extensions to the Lycian Way proposed in the first report by the archaeologists:
- Fethiye-Kayaköy-Ölüdeniz (14km) – is already waymarked (Fethiye Chamber of Trade). Note that it does not connect with the Lycian Way, which starts at Ovacık.
- Fethiye-Tlos-Choma (120km)– Ovacik – Pinara – Tlos – Gömbe forms part of our proposed High route. Choma is in an agricultural area with no attractive features for trekkers, so should be an optional excursion from Gömbe.
- Kalkan-Nysa-Sütleğen-Choma (90km) A link Gömbe – Nysa/Sütleğen – Lycian Way at Bezirgan would be possible but not very attractive for trekkers.
- Finike-Limyra-Arykanda-Arneai-Podalia-Choma (100km) and Rhodiapolis-Idebessos-Choma (80km) – When designing the original Lycian Way, we considered links with Limyra and Rhodiapolis. Limyra is the centre of an orange-growing area and the agricultural workers harass foreign women. Rhodiapolis is in a most unattractive area of greenhouses. Both have poor public transport and accessibility. So they were excluded from the route. A better solution is to link the Lycian Way at Şahin Tepe (above Finike) to Alacadağ – Gökbük – Arykanda – İdebessos and the Lycian High Route; however quarrying work in the Alacadağ – Arykanda area would have to be restricted. Arneai is best included in the network of churches above Demre developed by Beymelek Belediyesi.
- Rhodiapolis, 40 eye bridge, Limyra Heroon and Limyra could be linked in a one day route offered as a guided daytrip from Finike, Ciralı and Kumluca; expensive landscaping and access work would be required.
- Rhodiapolis-Idebessos-Kitanaura-Lykai – until the situation of HES and quarries in the Alakır and Çandır Valley is stabilized, it’s impossible to plan routes in this area.
If these routes are developed, it is most important that they are branded, documented and marketed entirely separately from the Lycian Way. Any attempt to link them with the Lycian Way will at best lead to trekker disappointment and at worst unprepared trekkers having accidents and injuries. They have completely different characteristics, including:
- the walking season is completely different
- there is almost no existing accommodation so walkers will have to camp
- the routes are suitable for experienced walkers only
- they offer no opportunities to swim or coastal views
Before money is spent making these trails, investigations into the market and possible demand should be made.
We would like to emphasise that, with national and international support, Cultural Routes in Turkey are on the verge of a marketing breakthrough to a wider user base. We hope that the Culture and Tourism Ministry will consider the representations in this report when planning the future of Cultural Routes in Turkey. Since the Society forms the link between the users and these routes, any failure to consider and act on these views will lead to marketing failures and user dissatisfaction. At the same time, Society funds, personnel and expertise are very limited and we would welcome positive and well-planned engagement from the Ministry.
This report is the considered view of the culture routes society whose members, including 20 tourism agencies, 30 accommodation providers and 20 guides, work on the Lycian Way.