Ecological Agriculture Tourism Education Project

Ecological Agriculture Tourism Project is a European Union support project with a budget of 62.000 Euro. 9 educators from Samsun 19 Mayis University Faculty of Agriculture were assigned to the project and the training took place in Uzungol with the participation of 28 women and 12 men. Since mostly women are involved in agriculture, running guesthouses and hotels in the town, the majority of the participants were women. Not only the participants did have training, but they also went to ecological agriculture farms in all around Turkey to examine them on site. Some facilities that are engaged in both ecological agriculture and tourisy accommodation in Ku§adasi and Fethiye were visited. Moreover, course certificates were provided (Anonymous, 2009c).

• Halfeti Eco Tourism Project

Initiated by GAP Regional Development Administration, the project aimed at, among others, establishing eco tourism infrastructure in Halfeti in the province of §anliurfa in order to give prominence to characteristics and cultural richness of the rural area and its inhabitants, and to provide socio-economic development and employment by creating income earning employment opportunities for the local community. In addition, contributing to the revitalization and the utilization of the regional tourism and helping protect the environment are among the goals.

The following were included within the scope of the project: founding Halfeti Eco Tourism Women’s Cooperative, restoration of some selected unique Halfeti houses to be used for accommodation, promotion of traditional product production (food, medicinal herbs, handicrafts etc.) to endow the local community with skills, provision of theoretical and practical trainings on "running guesthouses", "traditional product production and presentation" and "eco tourism" to raise the awareness of the local community (Anonymous, 2009d).

Rural Development within the concept of sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental development is considered. In addition, rural development is an important factor in increasing levels of prosperity in rural areas. At this point, all this is carried out with rural tourism organizations. An established co-operative organization, especially in rural tourism is used as important requirement in achieving these objectives. Participation and democracy in cooperatives play an important role for sustainability development of the local people. In addition, in rural cooperatives creates employment for rural development in rural areas.

Activating the local potential, getting women to take part in their organizations and generating activities for income increase significance of these organizations (Ozdemir, Kiper &Ba§aran 2009).

3. Conclusion

Rural tourism is a good opportunity for agricultural based communities but the setting of objectives and the final tourism development plan needs caution. For better results the whole range of the stakeholders have to participate in the planning stage. Slow and stable steps needs for this kind of planning in order conflicts and mistakes to be avoided (Douglas & Derrett, 2001; Mathieson & Wall, 1992; Butler, Hall& Jenkins,1998; Richards & Hall, 2000).

In the broadest definition, planning is organizing the future to achieve certain objectives’ (Inskeep, 1991). In other words planning may be explained as deciding for the future by the knowledge of past and now. Planning action includes various aims including economic development planning, urban and regional planning, land use planning and infrastructure planning etc.

The benefits of tourism planning for a country (Gursoy, 2006):

• By the tourism plans, precautions and tools that are deemed necessary for tourism development are identified through the identification of future objectives

• Tourism plans provide a disciplinary order for the achievement of the objectives

• Tourism plans provide assurance for the financial resources and opportunities that the activity requires

• Tourism plans provide the dispersion of the responsibilities and the control on implications

If rural tourism is considered to have economically, socio-culturally and environmentally positive impacts on the region, it is clear that it is definitely necessary to utilize rural tourism potential. Traditional production styles should be arranged according to needs of rural tourism and should be integrated with rual tourism.

The issue is sustainable use and conservation. In the attempts of conservation; the views, opinions and active participations of the local people must also be obtained. This is because a step taken without considering conditions of the local people or the practices influencing their economic and sociological life styles might lead to the worse results. Starting from these, in all these practices, policies and investments taking the priorities of the local people into consideration and making them an active actor would make protective and sustainable precautions more active. Forests have not contributed the district economically. Within this scope, some recommendations have been made to increase ecotourism opportunities to be developed in rural areas. The forest areas should be preserved and evaluated within the scope of rural tourism. Old houses should be preserved via lodging and boutique hotel identity in tourism.

In order to hand down the natural and cultural heritage of the local people, who pursue their traditional life styles without losing cultural infrastructures, to the next generations, and to preserve and evaluate within the scope of rural tourism, awareness raising programs should be carried out. In this context, the fact that ecotourism is an economic opportunity should be emphasized in order to preserve the local people and culture and to hand down a preserved nature to the next generations. Besides, it should be emphasized in the awareness-rising programs that an ill-planned, underdeveloped and unorganized tourism development might cause disturbance of natural landscapes of rural areas, might threaten wildlife and biological diversity, may cause poor quality of water sources, may leads to the immigration of local people and the erosion of cultural traditions. With the objects of diversification of the sources of income of the people and of offering alternatives, side income generating sources in the areas especially like rural tourism, organic agriculture; agricultural product processing and merchantable plants growing should be put in practice.

Rural tourism plans are the parts of a general rural region development plans and planning study is the duty of the official administrative units which have the responsibility of rural development or tourism development. It should be a national or regional administrative unit but it may be a tourism or agriculture administration institution according to the role of the agri-tourism development of the national aim. Rural tourism should be developed with the aim of enhancing agricultural production or tourism development; therefore agriculture and the tourism ministries are the primary responsible institutions for rural tourism planning. Especially in developing countries, ‘it is necessary the national intervention for development in any kind of tourism’. Whether agricultural or tourism ministry manages the process, coordination among the all administrative units, also forestry and environment ministries take role in the process, is the must. Network regarding conservation works among the government agencies, universities, NGOs and private sector should be constituted and this network should be strengthened. Task sharing should be made among these institutions and organizations and the coordination should be ensured.

Rural development carried out by rural tourism organizations and cooperatives increases the levels of welfare people living in rural areas.

In conclusion, rural tourism activities which are not performed according to the purpose, the principles and the characteristics cause the disturbance in environmental, economic and socio-cultural fields due to over-intensification to be occurred especially in sensitive ecosystems like rural areas. Therefore, in order to provide sustainability in the rural tourism, it is necessary to know environmental, social and economical effects of rural tourism activities and to consider these effects during the planning. From this point of view, informing the local people, who are the most affected group by rural tourism, about the effects caused by the rural tourism to be developed in their region is primarily important.