Research suggests tourists enjoy local experiences. The Tui Blue Sarigerme Park in Turkey aims to deliver them. Ian Taylor spoke to general manager Yavuz Zeyrek
The Tui Blue hotel concept, launched last year, encapsulates Tui’s strategy of offering exclusively its own hotels and its focus on sustainability and delivering local experiences.
Opened last year, the Tui Blue Sarigerme Park on Turkey’s Aegean Coast was the first of these properties. Yavuz Zeyrek, the hotel’s general manager, explained: “Tui Blue places experience at its core. It focuses on authentic holiday encounters.
“Our chefs use regional ingredients and create buffets inspired by the destination, and we offer unique excursions for guests to learn about the region and to support the local community.”
All the properties are certified to sustainability standards recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which includes the Travelife scheme run by Abta.
Zeyrek said: “Sustainability forms part of our communication in source markets as well as in resort. We display the certification in brochures, online and on tour operator websites.
“In the hotel we use the Blue App and Blue Guides to communicate with guests. The app works like an online guide and companion, with information about the hotel and its surroundings, including on the environment and sustainability. It provides advice on how guests can support our efforts.”
Regional cuisine is an important part of the experience. Zeyrek said: “Guests have the opportunity to cook traditional Turkish dishes with me and my chefs. Small groups of participants find out about cooking techniques, the history of each dish and tips on how to serve them.”
He added: “We purchase food and drink from the local community as much as possible. During the purchasing process, we give priority to companies with high environmental awareness – for example, to companies with environmental management certification ISO 14001.
The hotel’s approach to waste is equally rigorous. Zeyrek said: “We regularly organise beach cleans and seabed cleans with staff and guests.” Excursions exclusively available to Tui customers – through the Tui Collection brand launched two years ago – are also key.
Zeyrek said: “Each excursion meets sustainability criteria, bringing benefit to local people.”
He highlighted the Blue Dalyan trip to a turtle rehabilitation centre, saying: “The centre takes care of turtles injured by boats or that have eaten plastic. The customer feedback has been extremely positive.”
Hotel manager says Turkish tourism drop hits local economy
Turkey has suffered a sharp fall in visitor numbers over the past two years, in particular from the UK, and the German government recently issued a warning to its nationals travelling to the country.
Tui Blue Sarigerme Park general manager Yavuz Zeyrek said: “Of course, tourism has ups and downs. It is crucial to welcome guests from different markets to generate high occupancy throughout the season.”
He insisted the experience of those who come is crucial, saying: “We maintain a high standard of quality and benefit from a large volume of repeat guests.”
Zeyrek conceded that any downturn has an impact on the region, saying: “People here work either in the hotel industry or in family-owned businesses that deliver local products to the hotels. If hoteliers need to adjust their resources, this has a direct impact on the local community.”
But he said: “We are very proud that, even at this time, we are able to employ 15 local trainees in our resort, supporting them on their first steps in the industry.”
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