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Expats, students serve as Turkey’s volunteer tourism envoys



Turkey’s historical and natural beauty attracts millions of tourists to the country every year, and the country finds assistance in promotion from the expatriates and international students it hosts.

In the central province of Kayseri, foreign students provide free tours of tourist attractions. Their efforts as the country’s informal tourism envoys eventually drew more tourists from their countries to Turkey. One Chinese expat settled two years ago in the fabled Cappadocia region, located in Kayseri’s Nevşehir district. There, she strives to promote her new home to the inhabitants of her native country through videos she publishes on social media.

An association in Kayseri organizes tours, conferences and other events for students from Africa, Asia and Europe who study at universities in the province thanks to Türkiye Scholarships from the Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB). Tours and events both help their integration into Turkish society and help them gain a deeper knowledge of the country. The tours cover several destinations in Kayseri, from Kültepe, an ancient settlement, to the historic house where the famed Ottoman architect Sinan was born and historic “bird mansions,” a 19th-century cluster of decorative birdhouses in the Gesi neighborhood, as well as other cities. The association’s chair, Ali Dursun, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday that they organized 16 different events including tours for 300 students from 112 countries who are attending four universities in Kayseri. “They are, in a way, our cultural envoys. They talk about what they’ve seen here when they return to their countries,” he said.

Baiaman Esenakunov, a junior at the Faculty of Engineering at Erciyes University, said Anatolia hosts important historical sites and he would definitely recommend Turkey to his fellow Kyrgyz. Esenakunov said he visited Ephesus, Alanya Citadel, historical sites in Mersin as well as Konya, home of famed Sufi philosopher Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi.

Maliki Mustafa, a doctorate student from Togo, said he talks about the cultural and historical sites of Turkey all the time when he visits to his country and he “absolutely” recommends Istanbul, Kayseri and Konya.

Rimshan Muhammad Rafik from Sri Lanka said he was especially proud to visit the sites with traces of Islamic history. “People in Sri Lanka are especially curious about the Ottoman legacy in Anatolia. I convey what I’ve seen to them. More people from Sri Lanka are eager to visit Turkey, especially places like Şanlıurfa and Mardin where prophets once lived,” he said.


Ismira Julfayeva, a prospective nurse studying at Erciyes University, said they both had an opportunity to see Turkey’s historic places as well as learn about its culture and customs.

Chen Xuan settled in Ürgüp, a district of Nevşehir, two years ago. The Chinese national got engaged to local tour guide Burhan Güney, who she met while he was studying Chinese in Tianjin, and is among the volunteer tourism envoys. Xuan’s videos on Cappadocia, a historic area covering Nevşehir and Kayseri better known as the home of the volcanic formations called “fairy chimneys,” attract attention on social media. She and her fiance promote the region with their videos.

She told AA that she first visited Cappadocia in 2016 as a tourist and fell in love. After she met Güney, she decided to settle in Nevşehir. “Turkish people’s hospitality and the historic, cultural and natural beauties here are alluring. I am impressed with the weather as well, as you can experience four seasons in different places. I particularly loved Cappadocia and Göbeklitepe,” she said, referring to another historic site in southeastern Turkey’s Şanlıurfa.

Chen Xuan’s videos cover everything from “fairy chimneys” to hot air balloons, a popular tourist attraction for a bird’s eye view of volcanic formations and beautiful valleys, as well as workshops offering samples of local handicrafts. “I love history and this place is great for fans of history like me, especially with ancient churches carved into rocks. I talk about Cappadocia’s geological formation and marvelous landscape in my videos. Most viewers are eager to visit here,” she said.

Güney said he helped his fiancee, who he calls “Suzan,” while shooting videos. “She shoots and I help her to promote Cappadocia. We support each other. We have much in common but also some major differences, but that’s what makes us closer,” he said.

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Source: Daily Sabah


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