Interim Evaluation Meeting
The Interim Evaluation Meeting, which aimed at evaluating the plans produced by the associate organisations and local leaders and informing other national and local stakeholders involved, took place in Egirdir, Isparta on 04-05 August 2016. Although paticipation from local administrations was less than expected due to the ongoing state of emergency declared in July 2016 in Turkey, sufficient public and private organisations were present at the meeting. These included:
- General Directorate of Investments and Establishments from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
- General Directorate of Promotion from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
- Antalya Regional Conservation Committee;
- Isparta Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism;
- Associate Organizations (Inegöl Municipality, Demre Municipality, Egirdir Municipality);
- Inegöl City Museum;
- British Institute of archaeology, Ankara;
- Tourism Technical Educational School;
- Local headmans from various villages;
- Various accommodation owners and travel agencies;
The meeting started with a welcoming speech by Ömer Şengöl, the mayor of Egirdir, whose municipality is the Project associate as well as the host of this meeting. It then continued with a presentation by the Project coordinator Hüseyin Eryurt who talked about the Civil Society Program, Europe to Turkey on Foot Project with its aims and ongoing activities as well as the three existing routes in Turkey and two international routes namely Via Francigena and Via Egnatia. The meeting then went on by focusing onto these routes and several important matters raised by the local leaders and associate municipality representatives.
Initially, the Lycian Way was the subject route and Melike Gül from the Antalya Regional Conservation Committee explained their recent works on the protection of the Lycian Way. She first introduced the route and its history, and then stated that different teams from the conservation committee have worked on various locations to trace the existing route with its alternative branches and spot the historical sites that are both registered and non-registered. In the same session, Yusuf Ülker from the Project associate organisation Demre Municipality talked about the region and numerous projects managed by the municipality. The local leader from the Lycian Way Barış Yüksel concluded the session by highlighting the problems and necessities of this specific trail and offered possible solutions and reccommendations.
The next session after the lunch break started with a short movie showing various architectural and cultural attributes on the Evliya Çelebi Way. Önder Kılıç from the Inegöl City Museum introduced the route in more detail together with its needs. Mr Kılıç also used the data gathered during previous planing activities and surveys and he stated that because it is a relatively newer route, this trail needed more support compared to the other two, but, thanks to the Europe to Turkey on Foot Project, it has already achieved a lot. He looks forward to contributing to the guidebook which will be produced under A2.3.
Süleyman Ateş, who is the Project associate organisation representative from Demre Municipality, made a very detailed photo slideshow of the Stakeholders Visit to Italy (A1.3) and talked about his own impressions from this visit. He compared and contrasted the Via Francigena and St Paul Trail with all the facilities they have and then gave the stage to Ibrahim Ağartan, the local leader and accommodation owner in Egirdir. In the same session Işılay Gürsu from the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara introduced their brand new project whihc will link ancient Pisidian sites with a walking route. This Project aims to promote the cultural and natural heritage of the region for those visitors who enjoy off-the-beaten-track experiences and to implement a sustainable management plan which will enable the local communities to offer proper visitor facilities within the concept of eco-tourism. The project target falls under the scope of Europe to Turkey on Foot Project as when it is completed, part of the Pisidian Way will form a link between the Lycian Way and the St Paul Trails. Therefore, the session concluded by further collaboration possibilities between the two projects.
The last session of the meeting opened with a very comprehensive presentation by Kate Clow, who is the creator of several cultural routes and the chairperson of Culture Routes Society. Kate’s talk gave a brief introduction to the idea of sustainable tourism development and then focused on different cultural route organization management examples from the World and Europe especially. She demonstrated how the Europe to Turkey on Foot Project will eventually combine two European routes, the Via Francigena and the proposed Via Egnatia with the three Turkish trails, thus providing a sustainable tourism corridor from Rome to Demre. The first day of the Interim Evaluation Meeting finished with the invaluable opinions and contributions from the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry representatives. Fahri Yıldırım from the General Directorate of Promotion showed the promotional campaigns that the Ministry has been running in 2016 exclusively for cultural routes and Kazım Onur Kurt of the General Directorate of Investments and Establishments indicated that his department will be revising the Turkish Tourism Strategy for the period 2017-2023 and for the first time, Culture Routes will form a component of this strategy. He also spoke about existing strategy for the lakes basin which includes Eğirdir.
On the 2nd day a group of attendees visited first Bedre village, where they admired traditional architecture, then Bağören village famous for its rose gardens. The group drank tea with a local family then walked the St Paul Trail to Barla village, where they visited an ancient church. The walk finished in Barla village where the group had lunch with local people.
Culture Routes Society