A new initiative to spread the benefits of tourism to rural communities, by linking Muğla region’s artisan food producers with hotels and other tourism businesses, was officially launched last Thursday (4th April) at the Muğla Chamber of Commerce (MUTSO) headquarters.
“Flavours from the Fields”
“Flavours from the Fields” is a TUI Care Foundation project being delivered by the Travel Foundation and FETAV, with support from the Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muğla Village Cooperatives Union among other stakeholders mainly from the tourism and productive sectors.
Over three years, the project will work with cooperatives and producers of products based on honey, olives, fruits and other locally-grown ingredients to increase sales by supplying to hotel kitchens, restaurants and gift shops.
Research carried out for the project suggests that currently only 5-10% of the “value added” foods (such as oils and jams) bought by hotels in Muğla region are produced locally.
Some of the project activities will include:
- supporting producers to develop and market new products that are suited to the tourism sector,
- “brokering” buying agreements between producers and tourism businesses and encouraging hotels to buy from small, local suppliers,
- promoting regional delicacies to tourists – for instance through tasting events in hotels.
The aim is to get at least 50 hotels and other tourism businesses in the Muğla region buying new local products, generating £200,000+ in sales.
Welcoming the project, deputy Governor of Muğla Mehmet Fikret Çavuş said:
“In the 80s when Tourism began to evolve in Turkey, tourists were in the town and cities together with the locals. Locals and tourists were familiar with each other and had cultural interaction. But over time, this cultural interaction began to decline. While tourists were searching for the cheaper way to take a vacation, we began to condemn them to 5-star hotels. The cultural dimension of tourism is an important element for people to recognize each other and to prevent alienation. This project may help to bring back the close relations between tourists and local people.”
Chairman of the Turkish Village Cooperatives Union Eray Çiçek said.
“Unfortunately, farmers can’t earn significant incomes with the production of raw materials in Turkey and value-added products provide better income options. Usually families operate their own small farms and try to market their produce through intermediaries and can’t get decent prices they deserve. Our cooperatives can play a significant role in this project and can organize the processing and distribution of products.”
Chairman of Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mustafa Ercan said.
“We are proud to host the launch event of such a project which will support the livelihoods of local farmers. There is plenty of raw materials available in our region for the implementation of the Flavours from the Flavors project. The important thing here is to support local producers and provide the necessary promotion and encouragement for these local products to be preferred. With this project, farmers and producers in our province will be able to have more secure and sustainable livelihoods.”
Mr Şemsi Toprak, Programme Coordinator at the Travel Foundation, said
“We have been very pleased with the early support and interest in this project. We have identified significant potential to increase supply to the tourism sector, and I’m confident that hotels will see the benefits of buying local produce, as they have done with our earlier project, Taste of Fethiye. We have the right partners in place and welcome new partners along the way, and we hope to have our first sales very soon.”
Mr. Frank Oostdam, Treasurer at TUI Care Foundation, said:
“We are managing 30 projects in 25 countries and this is a project which our organization adopts 100 percent as both vision and mission. We believe that tourism is a very effective sector in launching and promoting different projects in destinations. Together with our partners we aim to bring together holiday makers and local products in this project. The launch event was well attended by local chambers of commerce, hotelier associations, tour operators and producer cooperatives and unions. Guests were given the chance to meet some of the producers involved in the project and sample their products. For instance, apiculture products from Karaböğürtlen Village Cooperative and olive oils from Dereköy Village Cooperative”
About TUI Care Foundation
Building on the potential of tourism as a force for good, the TUI Care Foundation supports and initiates partnerships and projects, which create new opportunities for the young generation and contribute to thriving communities all over the world.
Connecting holidaymakers to good causes, the TUI Care Foundation fosters education and training initiatives to open up new opportunities and perspectives for young people, the protection of the natural environment in holiday destinations and sustainable livelihoods in thriving destinations where local communities can benefit even more from tourism.
TUI Care Foundation works global and acts local – it builds on strong partnerships with local and international organisations to create meaningful and long-lasting impact. The charitable foundation values transparency and the efficient use of funds. Therefore 100% of the donations go to destination programmes with all administration costs of the foundation covered by TUI. TUI Care Foundation was founded by TUI, the world’s leading tourism business, and is based in the Netherlands.
About the Travel Foundation
The Travel Foundation is a charity that works in partnership with leading tourism organizations to improve the impacts of tourism and shape a positive future for destinations. Since we were set up in 2003, we have worked in 26 popular holiday destinations around the world. Our head office is in the UK and we have a global network of project managers. We have been working in Turkey, with a focus on the Fethiye region, since 2010, on projects including “Taste of Fethiye” and “http://mavidalgaprojesi.com/”
Thank you to Şemsi Toprak for providing us with the information for this article