This article is published with kind permission of the Travel Foundation

The Travel Foundation has been actively working in the Muğla region of Turkey for almost 10 years and has delivered major projects related to local livelihoods and conservation. This area has some of Turkey’s most popular resorts such as Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye and welcomes 3.5 million tourists every year. Together with TUI Care Foundation, we’ve started to implement one of our most ambitious projects in the region called Flavours from the Fields.

Flavours from the Fields

The project aims to bring more secure and sustainable livelihoods for rural families by increasing the supply of locally processed agricultural products (such as honey, olive oil and jams) from small-scale producers in the Muğla region into hotels and tourism businesses in the main resorts.

The Travel Foundation - improving livelihoods in Turkey
Top left: Cihangir Karasu (TUI Blue Sarigerme Park Purchasing Manager) receiving first order from Labranda Olive Oil’s delivery staff Nurullah Aydin; Top right: Semsi from the Travel Foundation, Agehan Manav (owner of Maki Bahce Natural Products), Yasin Ekizoğlu and Cihangir Karasu; Bottom: Kemal Guneri (TUI Blue Sarigerme Park Finance Manager), Semsi, Levent Baydal (owner of Labranda Olive Oils), Yavuz Zeyrek (TUI Blue Sarigerme Park General Manager) and Cihangir Karasu.

Region-wide opportunities for supply and demand

At the beginning of this year, region-wide opportunities for both supply and demand were explored, identifying the producers and products that were suitable for hotels and tourism businesses. Local cooperatives and SMEs (Small and medium sized enterprises) were the main focus of the initial work as the plan is to directly link them with hotels in the best and most practical ways possible.

The project team are utilising previous experience and assessing lessons learned from the Taste of Fethiye project. Being aware of hotels’ needs, adapting to their standards and gaining their trust are key issues in this kind of initiative.

They have already been able to start linking local producers with some of the biggest hotels in the region. It is wonderful to see the ideas from the planning stages turning into reality, such as the recent purchase agreements producers secured with one of the flagship hotels in Turkey. 

The Travel Foundation - improving livelihoods in Turkey
Photograph courtesy of TUI Care Foundation

TUI Blue Sarigerme Park (see staff pictured above) have committed to buy all of their honey, olive oils and dried apples from the producers working with the Flavours from the Fields project. The very first delivery of pine honey (a specialist forest honey) from the Karabortlen Village Cooperative was also made this week.

Agehan Manav, 34, the CEO of Maki Bahce Natural Products, expressed her excitement about the deal with the hotel: “I’m very happy with the opportunity this project provided for me. I never supplied products to a hotel of this size. Now I feel more connected with an attractive sector in which I wanted to engage since a long time.”

Yavuz Zeyrek, General Manager of Sarıgerme Park, was equally positive about the project: “We are excited about the support of ‘Flavours of the Fields’, which helps us to source high quality local products. This adds value to both our guest’s experience and the local economy.”

There has been great interest in the project from Fethiye hotels and products will start to be delivered to them within the next few weeks – engagements with Marmaris and Bodrum hotels will follow. Over the next three years, the project aims to deliver products to 50 hotels in the region and 800,000 tourists will be enjoying local delicacies.