On December 8, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management hosted the 11th Bilkent Tourism Forum, bringing together representatives of key public and private tourism industry organizations, diplomatic corps, and higher education institutions. This year’s forum took place at the Bilkent Hotel and Conference Center wıth the theme “Tourism Diversification: Time for Revival.” Across two sessions, the forum focused and invited discussion on the revival observed across various sectors within Turkish and global tourism in the post-pandemic era, and how tourism diversification emerged as a catalyst for this revival.
The forum opened with welcoming remarks by Prof. Altay Güvenir, Dean of Faculty of Applied Sciences; Gonzalo Ceballos, Tourism Counsellor for the Spanish Embassy; Hervé Magro, Ambassador of France; and Rector Kürşat Aydoğan.
The morning session hosted four panelists: Sinan Köseoğlu, Cluster Manager of The Address Hotels in Dubai; Murat Altunay, Setur Ankara Branch Manager; Fikret Demirağ, Executive Chef of Banyan Restaurant; and Prof. Carlos Costa, University of Aveiro in Portugal. The panelists discussed new routes and trends in their respective fields. Prof. Costa elaborated on the ‘visitor economy’ outlook as well as other EU-wide policies and strategies to revive tourism.
The afternoon session focused on tourism diversity and how diversification can be a sustainable solution in terms of earnings, employment and development. The panel comprised of a diverse set of speeches from Şamil Karakaş, SVP of THY and Head of AnadoluJet; Dr. Genco Çetinkanat, surgeon and director from Güven Hospital Group; Duygu Elakdar of Hiç Urla, an olive-oil-themed sustainable restaurant in Urla; İhsan Alboğa and Selva Hansu of Tempo Tur, one of the country’s oldest heritage tour organizers; Rengin Bülbül Turan of Paralian Deniz İşleri, a rising cruise organizer from İstanbul; Cüney Kuru, general manager of Aquaworld Belek; and Prof. Mehmet Ergül, from San Francisco State University, California. The panelists shared inspiring success stories across medical, culinary, historical and sports-based tourism. The forum concluded with a speech by Prof. Ergül on lessons learned over the last two years of higher education in tourism and how we need to diversify our educational programs to cater to new demands and sensitivities as well as specialization needs developed in the post-pandemic era.