27.08.2022 - Participating in the Conference on Anatolian Landscape and Faith Tourism: Ancient Times to Present

The role of geographical indications in faith tourism: the case of the route of the Seven Churches

Caner Ünal and Çağla Çavuşoğlu McKenzie

Abstract: Geographical indications (GIs) are considered as a tool to preserve traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, to support rural development, and to contribute to tourism. However, there are certain limits to take advantage of the opportunities and benefits of GIs, such as low awareness, understanding and recognition of GIs in the tourism sector. This study, therefore, focuses on the role of geographically indicated food products in faith tourism routes such as the Seven Churches of Asia, which are all located in Anatolia; Ephesus, Smyrna, Laodicea ad Lycum, Sardis, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Thyatira. Determining the food products with geographical indications on the Seven Churches route (İzmir-Manisa-Denizli) and revealing the awareness of tour guides on these intangible assets may fill the research gaps about a possible combination of two alternative tourism experiences including faith and food tourism in terms of geographically indicated food products. A qualitative approach based on a content analysis of in-depth interviews with tour guides is conducted for the data collection. Results indicate that awareness of tour guides about geographical indications on faith routes is limited, and a targeted GI training would provide a necessary skill for improving tour guides’ personal developments and qualifications.

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