An overview of the United Nations Joint Programme “Alliances For Culture Tourism In Eastern Anatolia”
United Nations Joint Program “Alliances for Cultural Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” (UNJP) will develop and enhance cultural tourism in Kars, contributing to social cohesion by recognizing pluralism, and reducing income disparities between the people of Kars and the rest of Turkey. The UNJP is funded by the MDG Achievement Fund entrusted to United Nations Development Programme by the Government of Spain, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and United Nations Organisations UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). The UNJP will contribute to the realization of MDG-1 at a localized level by addressing Turkey’s regional developmental disparities. The UNJP will ensure national self-sufficiency through effective collaboration, increasing the capacity of the tourism sector in Kars, and maintaining institutional sustainability in cultural policy management and implementation.
The United Nations Joint Programme takes place in the Kars province of Eastern Anatolia, an area exceedingly rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty. Turkey’s Eastern Anatolia region has been home to many historic civilizations, and their indelible marks show prominently in Kars’ unique monuments and religious buildings.
Although Eastern Anatolia has significant potential in social, cultural and economic development, the Human Development Index of the region is far below the average national rate. Lack of infrastructure in the region inhibits social and economic growth. “In short and medium terms, the grand economical potential of the region is believed to be in commerce and tourism sectors. This region is home to highly valuable cultural assets that are unknown to the world. Therefore stimulation in these sectors has a very high chance of success in order to reduce poverty (UNDP-Turkey, 2006).
- Kars lies in the heart of the Southern Caucasian region, in the northern part of Eastern Anatolia. Moreover, Kars stands at a strategic point on Turkey’s borders with Armenia and Georgia.
- Kars is the home to 250 species of birds; out of 400 species in all over Turkey.
- Kars is one of the 6 cities in Turkey suggested as a “women friendly city”.
- Kars is one of the 15 “brand cities” in Turkey.
- Kars has significant potential for cultural tourism, winter sports and nature tourism.
- Historic Ani City in Kars is one of the finest examples of medieval art and architecture in Turkey.
Developing the cultural tourism sector in Kars provides a critical model for Turkey. The aim in Kars is to carefully manage the tangible and intangible cultural assets in a way that uses them for sustainable local development, while at the same time caring for them to maintain their timeless tradition and culture. This strategy of economic growth and cultural preservation is important for all areas of Turkey in its continuing cultural tourism development.
Kars’ historical, cultural and natural assets provide enormous potential for tourism, and the ability to attract large numbers of Turkish and foreign guests. This economic growth would reduce substantial income disparities between Kars and the rest of the country.
Goals of the UN Joint Programme
- Increasing the capacities of communities and enterprises for income generation and job creation in the culture based tourism sector.
- Increasing and strengthening the initiatives in Eastern Anatolia both in civil society and government in order to reduce the poverty on a local level.
- Improving the capacities of local authorities and civil society to promote social cohesion and dialogue through fostering of pluralism.
- Encouraging women’s entry into entrepreneurship.
- Mapping of tangible and intangible heritage assets in Kars and environs; promoting the implementation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage concept according to the UNESCO Convention.
- Development of technical and managerial skills at the national level to safeguard and enhance cultural and natural sites.
- Foster and develop a cultural tourism strategy and action plan agreed by national authorities within the context of the “Brand City” program and the Tourism Strategy 2023.
- Improving the social policies on children’s rights