Permanent tourism and host-guest relations: An empirical study of UK tourist-migrants in Didim, Turkey

Waller, Imren orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5037-0590 (2018) Permanent tourism and host-guest relations: An empirical study of UK tourist-migrants in Didim, Turkey. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Attention has long been paid in the literature to the general phenomenon of the migration demands of tourists and their mobility. In particular, the migration patterns of northern European populations to southern European regions, typically motivated by social and economic factors and the search for a better climate and a better quality of lifestyle, have been an area of considerable academic interest. However, with a few notable exceptions, the great majority of studies have focused primarily on European Mediterranean regions in general, and on Spain, France and Italy in particular. In contrast, tourist migration to Turkey’s coastal regions has been largely neglected by the academic community. Indeed, only a very limited number of studies have been undertaken into the phenomenon in Turkey, and these mostly date back to the start of the new millennium. Hence, research into tourism migration to Turkey is now relatively dated and, despite calls for more up-to-date studies to be undertaken, this has not occurred. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to address this gap in the literature. In particular, it seeks to investigate and develop a critical understanding of the case of British permanent tourists in Didim, in Turkey. In so doing, it offers an original contribution to the literature on tourist migration and second home ownership, not only considering the phenomenon in a country that, although experiencing a significant level of tourist migration and second home ownership, has benefited from limited research, but also exploring it in a socio-cultural context that differs significantly from that of the majority of (European based) studies.
More specifically, this thesis sets out to examine critically the relationship between the host community and tourist-migrants, referred to in this study as permanent tourists, in Turkey. In order to achieve this purpose, the research seeks to identify and elicit the views of permanent tourists in Turkey and explore the extent of their engagement with the host society and culture in Turkey. At the same time, not only does it develop an understanding of the general characteristics of those purchasing (second) homes in Turkey (i.e. space-time characteristics, nationality and motivations), but also it critically appraises the social, cultural and economic impacts of international (specifically British) tourists buying property in Turkey, as well as considering their interactions with the local Turkish community and the respective impacts of the interactions on both the local (‘host’) and permanent tourist (‘guest’) communities.

The research adopts an interpretivist approach and utilises qualitative methods to address the principal research questions. Such an approach responds to recent criticisms of the dominance of quantitative- based studies within the host perceptions / host-guest relations literature and consequential calls for broader, multi-dimensional qualitative-base studies. In order to elicit rich data from both (host and guest) communities in the study area, the research comprises three stages. The first stage involves interviews undertaken specifically with members of the host community, whilst the second stage employs the same method (interviews) to investigate the perceptions and experiences of British permanent tourists in Didim. The final stage of the research comprises three focus groups drawn from both the host and permanent tourist groups, the purpose being to consider issues identified in the interviews in greater depth in order to critically assess the themes emerging from both communities at the previous interview stages.
The principal findings, in part, concur with previous studies and, in part, reveal new themes and issues in terms of the motivations for British permanent tourists to settle in Turkey as well as in terms of the degree of integration into the local society. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it is found that many of the permanent tourists’ interactions with the host community remain superficial, yet symbiotic. The study also compared the differences between the relations of hosts with both permanent and temporary tourists and, in so doing, considers how the duration of a tourist’s stay impacts on these relations. Significantly, the findings challenge the models proposed in some early studies, such as Doxey’s irritation index (1975), and proposes an adaptation of the model of host and guest relations he developed, highlighting the need for more research about symbiotic host-guest relations, particularly in the case of permanent tourists.
In addition, and augmenting previous research, the findings reveal an increasing trend of permanent tourists, particularly those from the UK, leaving the region owing to insufficient financial resources, poor planning or for reasons of health. The study also reveals that most permanent tourists who still live in Didim are either the retired British population who live there all year round or are second home owners only there for extended holidays.
In line with previous studies, the study also identifies many social, economic and environmental impacts that permanent tourists have on the local community, including increased prices of property, products and services in the region. Despite the negative impacts, however, many locals remain positive about the presence of permanent tourists despite some reservations about some aspects of behaviour. Both communities appear to have learned to live together as two separate societies rather than one, mainly reflecting the language barrier.
The findings have important implications in terms of identifying means of overcoming potential issues to create a better and happier social life for the both communities and to establish more positive relations as a basis for potential tourism opportunities in Didim as well as in other destinations. Overall the study revealed that the integration levels of permanent tourists with the host community operate on a very practical level. Thus, it concludes that the integration model needs to differentiate between levels of interaction, a primary factor being whether permanent tourists learn the hosts’ language.

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