Sustainable Tourism

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

Planning for Sustainable Tourism in Sagalassos and Ağlasun

Because of the spectacular finds at Sagalassos, people in Ağlasun began to expect that increased tourism at the site would bring lots of new income to the town. Unfortunately, this has not yet happened.
One reason for this is the lack of tourism infrastructure in Ağlasun. Because there are few tourist facilities, tour buses and private cars go straight to the site without stopping in the town. This is a shame, because visitors are deprived of the chance to visit Ağlasun, while Ağlasunlus are deprived of the benefits of tourism.

To address this problem, community archaeology project members are working with the municipality to develop better visitor facilities in town. We recently agreed with the mayor of Ağlasun on two locations that will serve as focal points for visitors to Sagalassos. A building near the town market and convenient to the main entries to the town has been designated for development as a visitors’ centre for both Sagalassos and Ağlasun. Visitors will find information about regional tourism opportunities, updates on the digs, and facilities like ATM machines, toilets, an infirmary, and a café. Eventually, we also hope to make it an outlet for sales of local handicrafts and specialty agricultural products. We hope to also provide a public transportation option that serves the site from the visitors’ center. In the long run, the visitors’ centre will be managed by a local NGO.

A second building will hopefully be developed as a gallery and cultural center, displaying exhibits about the excavations and the history of Ağlasun and providing space for community meetings.
Ağlasun currently has a small agricultural tourism sector, where visitors can stay with farm families and help with the harvest of rose and other crops. This program was started by the environmental organization Bugday (an affiliate of WWOOF). The community archaeology project is exploring the feasibility of expanding this homestay program to allow visitors to the site to stay with local families in traditional mud-brick houses, and experience everyday life in Ağlasun.

We do not think that Ağlasun or Sagalassos are appropriate destinations for large-scale tourism development on the model of Antalya or Ephesus. Our aim, rather, is to help Ağlasun market its existing attractions, and ensure that people who visit the site also have the option to visit the town if they so choose. We envision our role not as funders or tourism developers but as coordinators – we hope to establish connections and develop expertise so that Ağlasun can develop self-sufficient, sustainable tourism infrastructure that is in contact with, but not dependent on, the archaeological team.

Learn more about community archaeology at Sagalassos:

What is Community Archaeology?
Community Outreach at Sagalassos
Saga-lasun Youth Development Program

Learn more about tourism opportunities in the region:

Tourism Information