On December 12, the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management continued the year-long celebration of its 30th anniversary as it hosted the seventh Bilkent Tourism Forum, which brought together representatives of key tourism industry organizations and higher education institutions. The theme of this year’s forum, which took place at the Bilkent Hotel and Conference Center, was “Tourism 4.0,” with a focus on technological developments and their impact on the tourism industry.
The forum started with welcoming remarks by Kamer Rodoplu, director of the School of Applied Technology and Management, and Prof. Abdullah Atalar, rector of the university, noting the importance of the tourism industry for Turkey, particularly during economic crises. Then came the first of two panel sessions, consisting of keynote speeches by Prof. Cihan Çobanoğlu (University of South Florida), Altuğ Bekdemir (general manager, Sabre Turkey), Berrin Benli (founder, Novusens Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute), Dr. Kerim Çakmak (IBM Watson Internet of Things; continuous engineering solutions consultant, MEA) and Süleyman Sözeri (director of external relations, Mastercard). The speakers shared their visions for the future with respect to their areas of expertise, discussing smart cities and smart tourism as well as artificial intelligence, big data and technology solutions for travel and tourism corporations.
The afternoon panel consisted of representatives from the tourism industry, who discussed endeavors to integrate new technology in their fields. Speakers were Nuray Demirer (general manager, TAV Esenboğa Airport), Assoc. Prof. Gökçe Yüksek (board member, International SKAL Federation), Prof. Mehmet Ergün (San Francisco State University), Dr. Erkan Yağcı (executive board chairman, Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association) Mine Sofuoğlu (manager, Ankara Rahmi M. Koç Museum), Dr. Kamil Özer (director of culture and tourism, Ankara Province), Kılıçarslan Karapıçak (disciplinary board president, Association of Turkish Tourism Agencies) and Fatih Tokatlı (general secretary, Tourism Investors Association).
The forum concluded with closing remarks by Mustafa Siyahhan, instructor in the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, and Yakut Dinler, chairman of the executive board of the Cappadocia Touristic Hoteliers Association. The final highlight of the event was the anniversary cake, enjoyed by the students, alumni and faculty members in attendance.