B.U. Tourism Administration Students Develop Innovative Solutions to the Problems of the Tourism Industry

B.U. Tourism Administration Students Develop Innovative Solutions to the Problems of the Tourism Industry

Young tourism students are asked to analyze the problems faced by the tourism sector and produce solutions in the UNWTO Students League competition, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the first time this year. A total of 60 universities from different countries of the world are participating in the competition, where a different case study is determined by the UNWTO every month. Boğaziçi University's Tourism Administration Department is represented by the “Beyond Five” team consisting of the fourth year undergraduate students Öykü Asya Ay, Murat Furkan Bilgin, Selin Mıstınoğlu, Berk Semiz and Gözde Yangu. The team’s advisors include Professor Maria D. Alvarez and Assistant Professor Ahmet Uşaklı.

UNWTO Students League

The UNWTO Students League contest consists of 5 case studies. In the competition, which started in February, students are given every month a real case facing the industry. Accordingly, students are asked to create innovative and inclusive solutions to these problems. The solutions offered are also expected to be compatible with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The solutions offered by the teams are evaluated and scored by a jury created by the UNWTO. The 4 teams with the highest total score from the first 4 case studies will become finalists. The fifth and final case study is planned to be conducted in Madrid, the headquarters of the UNWTO.

Where does the name "Beyond Five" come from?

Although we are a team of five students, we chose the name of our team as “Beyond Five” based on the idea that we represent Boğaziçi University in general. Because we believe that the Boğaziçi culture as a whole has supported us in the development of the solutions we are proposing.

What problems have you developed for the tourism sector so far?

As part of the contest, we have completed 3 case studies. The first case study we worked on was about a region famous for wine tourism. The main problem we had to solve there was related to the fact that small-scale wine producers in the region could not compete adequately with the large ones. Due to this difference in competitiveness, the revenues generated by tourism in the region are received mainly by large-scale producers; small businesses and local people who can contribute to tourism in various ways could not benefit from the income that tourism creates. In the project we developed for this case study, we planned a wine festival in collaboration with 5 small wine operators. Thanks to this festival, we have planned special workshops and events that will be hosted only by the 5 small wine producers, while making many parts of the city more attractive for tourists. In addition, workshops where local people can exhibit their own products, such as cooking based on wine, bread and cheese making are suggested. Activities that can appeal to different tourist groups such as yoga, meditation and music workshops have also been included in the festival program. We have also offered a mobile application proposal that aims to guide the tourists who will participate in the festival and enrich their experience. Thanks to this application, tourists will have the opportunity to easily find restaurants and businesses they want to spend time with, in accordance with their tastes. With this project, besides wine tourism, tourists who will visit the region are offered a lifestyle that identifies with wine, while on the other hand, thanks to the festival and mobile application, it is aimed that tourism will contribute economically to the community and benefits will be obtained in accordance with equal opportunities’ principles. Briefly, with the project we presented for the first case study, we aim to make the region an indispensable wine tourism destination in the minds of tourists thanks to digital solutions and socio-cultural activities.

In the second case study we were asked to accelerate the local economy after the COVID-19 with a solution that focuses on sustainability and aims to increase the employment of women and youth in a destination of our choice. Accordingly, we have determined an ancient walking route (St. Paul's Way), which already exists in Anatolia, as a pilot region. Although the places where this walking route passes are very important, especially for Christianity, the destination has not lived up to its expectations in terms of tourism development. For this reason, we have planned promotional campaigns that emphasize the region's cultural as well as its natural appeal. We have proposed various goals and activities that will improve the region by diversifying the opportunities that the region can provide and taking into account the seasonality. After the COVID-19 epidemic, we focused more on domestic campaigns in our project, as we foresee the change in the understanding of tourism, with a decrease in mass tourism targeting international and crowded groups, and more local and boutique tourism movements. In addition, within the scope of the project, women and youth employment is highlighted. We have also planned programs to train entrepreneurs among the women and youth through SME support and training programs.

The third case study was about the transition to normal life after COVID-19. In this case study, we were asked to develop solutions for how Spain, one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus epidemic, would achieve normalization in terms of tourism. In this period of uncertainty our solution is in fact not only for Spain; we offer some solutions that can be applied in Turkey and other tourism destinations worldwide. In addition, we can see this crisis as an opportunity to start solving some of the long-standing problems of tourism and to develop a new sustainable tourism model.

In the project we have prepared for this case study, we focus on trust, one of the biggest problems for tourism in the recovery process in the aftermath of the epidemic. First of all, providing a safe trip to tourist destinations and reducing crowds in those places should be our first effort. Establishing the maximum number of tourists to the regions with high tourism numbers, such as Barcelona and Ibiza in Spain, and restricting the number of arrivals via airlines is a first necessary step. The health of the local people and tourists should be protected despite mobilization in tourism. Countries where the pandemic is lighter can be especially targeted. The number of arrivals may be estimated not only by looking at past years’ trends but also by examining the number of information requests via the careful use of applications similar to Google Trends. A similar perspective can be applied for cities in Turkey with large tourist numbers, such as Antalya, Muğla, İzmir and Istanbul. If we can direct some of the concentrated demand to these cities to other destinations in a balanced way, we will pave the way for a more sustainable tourism development.

Another suggestion is to develop a certificate of approval, which we call a mandatory “trust certificate” for each tourism enterprise (hotels, restaurants, entertainment establishments, etc.). This certificate, which can be issued within a month by the central or local governments, will include the minimum measures that businesses must take against the pandemic. For example, some basic arrangements such as rearranging the seating layout for restaurants and entertainment businesses to maintain social distance, restricting the number of guests for hotels, removing open buffets, serving food only with plate service, are extremely important during the transition to normalization after the epidemic. Tourism establishments that do not carry out such measures or are not certified should not be allowed to open until the outbreak ends. Thanks to this kind of certification, we think that we will create a more trustworthy image in the eyes of potential tourists. In addition, a mobile application that shows tourist density will be developed and tourists will be encouraged to avoid crowded environments. This mobile application will guide the tourists by instantaneous coloring of the density in the tourist regions, as well as enabling the discovery of not only the popular places in the cities but also the hidden beauties. The risk map data included in the application of 'Hayat Eve Sığar' in our country is used by many citizens. However, since the application in question is only in Turkish, we think that a similar application to be prepared in various languages ​​is needed especially for foreign tourists. We believe that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's rapid development of such a mobile application will be an important solution for this difficult period.

Competition website: