Hasan Kırmızı is an instructor in Harran University’s (HRU) department of Social Sciences and Professional Tourism and Hotel Management. Kırmızı says if the ancient sanctuary of Göbeklitepe is adequately introduced and promoted to the world, the number of tourists coming into Turkey could reach as high as around 100 million per year.
Göbeklitepe is located on the highest summit of a mountain ridge southeast of the town of Şanlıurfa in Turkey’s Antalya province. Kırmızı, who believes efforts to publicize the site should begin immediately, explains that compared to other regions in Turkey, the southeast Anatolian region has a higher rate of unemployment due to uneven industrialization, and the region has a limited number of sectors that can provide jobs. “Tourism is an invaluable industry for increasing employment in the southeast and it has produced a trusted and shared engine which is driving other industrial sectors forward.”
Since tourism plays an important role in Turkey’s improving economic situation, areas with high tourism potential are realizing their increased touristic value. Kırmızı expresses the need for expansive and forward-thinking investments in tourism and highlights that tourism should be developed by increasing the number of tourism-related projects and the efficiency of tourist-related businesses.
“The general public is beginning to notice the important touristic value of Göbeklitepe,” explains Kırmızı.
Over the past 20-30 year period Turkey has begun to rank among the top-tier of travel destinations around the globe. “It is really our responsibility to introduce Göbeklitepe to the world. If we advertise appropriately we should be able to attract at least 10 million to the city of Şanlıurfa,” says Kırmızı.
Works of art from the Neolithic period
Kırmızı explains that Turkey’s natural, historical and cultural value cannot be touched by other countries. He argues that with this potential Turkey should be considered one of the top destinations in world travel. However by serving as a home to tourist attractions and important handiworks from antiquity Turkey also has a responsibility to protect the country’s historical legacy, explains Kırmızı.
“Of the works of art that attract the world’s attention the earliest undoubtedly come from Göbeklitepe. Scientists accept this area as the cradle of civilization. Göbeklitepe is situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and to the north is the lush high-yielding soil of Mesopotamia. Within the boundaries of Şanlıurfa monumental pieces of handiwork belonging to the early Neolithic period, about 11, 500 years ago have been found. At that time people would gather on this land for rituals, it was an important center for humankind’s development. Turkey and especially Göbeklitepe is a draw for tourists interested in the history of civilizations. Without wasting a lot of time on discussion and preparation, preservation projects should be organized on an international level. Otherwise the continued existence of these global treasures and invaluable works of art cannot be ensured.”
It was German archaeologist Professor Klaus Schmidt, who came to Turkey in 1978 for research, who discovered the site of Göbeklitepe in 1994.