A first evaluation of the relationship between High Speed Rail (HSR) and the tourism sector in Turkey: The cases of two Turkish cities
In Turkey, extensive investments have been made to develop HSR services since 2003. As a strategic and growing industry that relies on the increased mobility among cities and countries, tourism can benefit from these HSR services. But there are different types of tourism requiring different travel services. Due to this diversity, it is important to investigate the impact of the HSR lines on the tourism sector in specific case studies. In Turkey, the highest HSR ridership were observed in Ankara-Eskişehir and Ankara-Konya HSR corridors, each having more than 1.5 million HSR passengers annually. Konya is a major place of religious and cultural tourism attracting more than 2 million tourists every year, and Eskisehir is characterized by its identity of “University City”, theme parks, cultural and archaeological places that attract mostly domestic tourism. On one hand, recent studies on the HSR impact on Eskişehir and Konya showed that the advantages provided by HSR caused an increase in the number of daily visitors and on the other hand, some studies stated that main trip purposes for HSR trips were tourism and business. However, the net impact of HSR on tourism in these two cities has not been investigated. This is the aim of this paper. First, the change in the HSR ridership for all the existing corridors will be analysed to understand the development of HSR use. Secondly, tourism potential of HSR cities will be evaluated based on available tourism statistics, socio-economic characteristics of the cities, major touristic destinations (in or within the vicinity of the city) and tourism types. Spatial distribution of the touristic destinations in Konya and Eskişehir will be evaluated in more detail with respect to accessibility from HSR station (intermodal connections, public transit availability, etc.) as case studies.
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