Summary of Thermal Tourism in Turkey

Water implies life for human being. In the beginning, the healing and comforting effect of water was associated with the gods and bathing was regarded as worship. However although bathing action itself is not worship, today it is considered the first condition of worshipping in many religions. The first thermal practices started with using it for relaxation and the treatment of nobles especially the soldiers during the Roman era and with its dissemination among the public, an exact thermal culture was formed. This culture, continuing with Byzantines, later on caused the formation of hammam culture by combining with traditions of Turks. The traditional hammam concept integrated with modern thermal centers in order for the human to remain fit spiritually and to protect and improve his health as well as using water only for cleaning and bathing. The newly built Turkish hammams except the historic ones are often in the scope of spa and wellness or thermal tourism.


When we look through historical applications, it is observed that the areas of thermal water are in the status of center of social life as well as treatment or relieving. Thus the thermal areas have been an integral part of human life in every period of history. The improvement and protection of health and the desire of wellness and fitness made these centers prominent. When we examine important spa centers it draws our attention that the offered service has a very delicate balance. It is seen that everything, ranging from special menus suitable for consumers’ therapies to the architecture of the accommodation and the recreational areas, have been considered and designed very carefully. So we need contemporary facilities that will offer recreational activities for the senior, the disabled, the ones who have rheumatic, orthopedic, neurological and dermatological etc. problems and anybody healthy at any age as well as therapeutic services in the framework of thermal tourism. Since longer accommodations are required in thermal tourism more than any other tourism types because of therapy, the existence or creation of the attractions both in and around the facility is crucial to enable them to evaluate their free time, too. The existence of natural, cultural and special attractions in the neighborhood will help the thermal tourism facility a little. So whether there are such attractions is an important issue that should be taken into account before deciding about the establishment location.


The first element of the development of a thermal tourism enterprise is the existence of the natural resource. Then the facility should be equipped with all requirements that will serve the customer expectations. It is important to know thermal medical practices in terms of both the employees in this sector and the employers. It is important to know which diseases are healed and what kind of therapies exist in thermal areas in terms of not being ignorant about the applied processes. 


Different water compositions are good for different diseases. That is why it is important to have a basic knowledge about the composition of the water and what diseases it is good for. The main thermal therapy applications are Spa Bath, Mud (Peloid) Application, Gas Bath, Drinking Cure, Inhalation Cure and Sea Cures (Thalassotherapy).


As in all sectors, the basic mix elements for the formation of marketing mix are product/service, price, promotion and distribution. All the experiences and services that a tourist has from when he lives home to when he is back are defined as the touristic product. The aforementioned product is thermal tourism service. The most important properties of the services are that they are abstract, integral, unstorable and variable. The price is an offer to the market. If the customer accepts that, the price is set. Pricing is considered to be very variable in marketing strategies and play a key role in formulation of the marketing strategy. Before the price is set, many internal and external parameters should be considered systematically. When setting the price, the highest price is determined by taking into consideration the demand; the lowest price is determined by taking into consideration the costs, and the enterprise moves between these two limits. Basically, a pricing strategist should know four important factors. These are the goals of pricing, the cost, the competitors and the demand. Promotion is “the marketing efforts regarding the transfer of the messages that are sent to the target market by the enterprise where the messages aim at communicating with customers and providing the other changes for enterprise’s sake by giving information about the products.” Promotional objectives are information, persuasion, reminding and leading to buy. The tools of promotional mix are advertising, personal sales, sales development, public relations and publicity and direct marketing. Distribution in tourism can be defined as a set of practices performed to deliver touristic products from manufacturer to consumer with using rights. The main issue in tourism marketing is not the service but the tourist. The improvements in information communication technology enable global communication, provide development of global distribution systems and thus facilitate the reach of small enterprises to the market.


World tourism organization has made some studies for developing a tourism sector that is strong and is respecting every fraction. The purpose of these studies is that certain behaviors become standard and institutionalized in tourism. Since May 1997 “Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” has been tried to be adopted throughout the industry. The 13th General Assembly organized on 1st October 1999 in Chili “Declaration of Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” was accepted. The World Trade Organization identified the global tourism codes of ethics under ten topics as;


  1. tourism's contribution to mutual understanding in society,
  2. individual and collective aspects of tourism,
  3. sustainability,
  4. preservation of cultural heritage,
  5. increasing wealth of countries and societies, 
  6. responsibilities of the parties for the development of tourism,
  7. right to participate in tourism,
  8. freedom for tourism movement,
  9. rights of employees and entrepreneurs in the tourism sector,
  10. application of the principles of global ethics in tourism,

and then recommended all of the tourism enterprises to practice.


The utilization of thermal water in Turkey is regulated in the framework of Law for Encouragement of Tourism, Mining Law, Legislation about the Using Rights and Running Principles and Procedures of Thermal Water in Tourism Region and Centers, The Legislation about The Certification and Qualifications of Thermal Facilities and Spas Regulation. Integrating thermal tourism with the other tourism types is an important issue that should be taken into consideration for the development of tourism. An attempt in thermal providing the adopting of the aforementioned issues and their transferring into practice will be much more permanent.