Urban Tourism in Istanbul
Urban Regeneration, Mega-Events and City Marketing and Branding
Uysal Ülke Evrim
This thesis analyses urban tourism in Istanbul from the point of view of urban studies. Urban tourism is analysed by examining urban regeneration, mega-events and city marketing and branding and the impacts of these in the city of Istanbul between 2007 and 2011. The main argument of the thesis is the following: urban tourism is a complex phenomenon that is not limited to the business of providing services for people on holiday. Several aspects of urban tourism are closely connected to urban development, thus calling for an urban studies point of view. Case studies on Istanbul and a comparison between tourism promotion strategies in Helsinki and Istanbul give empirical evidence to support this argument. The main body of the thesis consists of four scientific publications. The first article analyses the development of cultural tourism projects in Istanbul and the connections between tourism business and urban regeneration policies at the time when Istanbul prepared strategies to become the European Capital of Culture. Tourism-led urban regeneration projects did not only led to the growth of number of tourists but also revived deindustrialised landscape. The article also examines the role of the mega-event of the European Capital of Culture in the transformation of the built environment in Istanbul in general. The second article, drawing on the analysis of locals perceptions and activists vision towards tourism-led urban regeneration, investigates locals resistance against tourism-led regeneration project in Sulukule, a historical neighbourhood of Istanbul. The article analyses the formation, structure, mobilisation and activities of an emerging urban social movement, the Sulukule Platform. The article demonstrates that tourism-led regeneration projects in a deteriorated residential area can have negative economic, spatial, social and cultural impacts. The third article compares tourism promotion strategies in two European cities, Helsinki and Istanbul. The article examines the selling points used in the cities tourism promotional campaigns and published materials. Introducing tourism promotion materials as significant tools of city marketing, the article studies different contextual meanings of similar selling points in these two cities. The fourth article is a case study of city branding in Istanbul during the European Capital of Culture event in 2010. Drawing on analysis of representations in tourism promotion materials through content analysis and semiotic analysis, the article identifies the main components of Istanbul s city brand and presents how tourism promoters used religion as a key theme in the branding processes.