İzmir's tourism partners came together and published the city's digital tourism infrastructure, VisitIzmir mobile application during the pandemic period, where tourism is digitalized worldwide and small-scale tourism is widespread. VisitIzmir, which was developed with the coordination of İzmir Foundation and the partnership of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, İzmir Development Agency and Sun Express, was opened to access with 11 categories covering 30 districts and more than 2,300 points of interest.
İzmir Governor Yavuz Selim Köşger, İzmir Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Murat Karaçanta, Good Party (İYİ Parti) İzmir Provincial President Hüsmen Kırkpınar, Konak Mayor Abdül Batur, Karaburun Mayor İlkay Girgin Erdoğan, Menderes Mayor Mustafa Kayalar, İzmir Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mahmut Özgener, İZKA Secretary General Mehmet Yavuz, German Consul Ulrich Münch, Italian Consul Valeria Giorgio, İzmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer's wife Neptün Soyer, İzmir Chamber of Tradesmen and Artisans President Zekeriya Mutlu, TÜRSEU Aegean Regional Representative Board Chairman Tolga Gencer, İzmir Historical Kemeraltı Tradesmen Association President Semih Girgin, İzmir Metropolitan Municipality bureaucrats, and parliament members attended the event. Sun Express CEO Max Kownatzki, one of the partners of the project, attended the important event with a video message from Germany.
Vision partnership emphasis for the city
Tunç Soyer, President of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and İzmir Foundation, emphasized the city vision partnership in his speech and said “It is a very exciting day. I am happy to launch the digital tourism encyclopaedia and VisitIzmir mobile application, which are the first in Turkey. We have achieved many firsts in 2020 and 2021 to grow İzmir tourism at a time when tourism mobility has come to a standstill. Moreover, we accomplished this with the partnership of the city vision with our İzmir Foundation, Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, İzmir Development Agency, our chambers, and all our city stakeholders. We prepared İzmir Tourism Promotion Strategy and Action Plan in this period in order to make İzmir one of the leading destinations in the world in tourism. The strategy unifies the policies of all institutions conducting tourism and promotional activities in İzmir. We position İzmir not only as a coastal destination but also as a city with history, culture, nature, and gastronomy. Our İzmir Foundation, which includes public institutions, professional organizations, and all institutions and organizations operating in the field of tourism in İzmir, played a very important role in the preparation of our tourism strategy and I am proud to be its president. We continue to work with İzmir Foundation, which is a member of institutions such as İzmir Governorship, Municipality, İzmir Chamber of Commerce and TÜRSAB, with the aim of increasing the welfare of our city in partnership with all stakeholders.”
Emphasizing that the main priorities for İzmir are to spread tourism to 12 months and 30 districts, Soyer said, “We also established İzmir Tourism Hygiene Board in this period. We positioned İzmir as a healthy and reliable city destination with the ‘Orange Circle for Hygiene Standards Certificate’ implementation, which we started with the work of the board. On the other hand, İZFAŞ established its own infrastructure to organize virtual fairs with an entirely original digital infrastructure in 2020, when physical fairs completely have stopped. OliveTech, ecology, and tourism virtual fairs were organized on the ‘Digital İzmir Fair’ platform, which was developed very quickly by 3D modelling of Turkey's largest and most modern exhibition area Fair İzmir. Turkey's first digital tourism fair was held in this period in partnership with TÜRSAB. In short, we did not see 2020 as a waiting, stopping, and resting year in İzmir tourism. We followed the developing and transforming tourism trends and took steps accordingly.”
Stating that they decided to collect tourist attraction points in İzmir in a single digital database and that this process resulted in the birth of VisitIzmir, Soyer said “On this important day, we are proud to have opened İzmir's digital tourism infrastructure, which we completed in twelve months, to users' access via the VisitIzmir mobile application. Information and visuals about more than two thousand tourist destinations under 11 different headings were gathered in a single digital database with the financial support of İzmir Development Agency and the work of more than 40 experts in the process of preparing the digital tourism infrastructure. Both detailed textual and visual information and video pool were created about these points with this study conducted under 11 different titles such as History and Culture, Nature, Belief, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Accommodation, Gastronomy, etc. A detailed study has been carried out up to the location information, contact information, information of the competent institution, and organization in the management of the points. We started to deliver all these data to all users everywhere in the world with the VisitIzmir website and mobile application at the last step.”
“A constantly evolving digital medium in interaction”
Emphasizing that detailed information about Mustafa Pancar, the last basket artisan from Bergama, luxury hotels in Çeşme, the first settlement of İzmir dating back 8,500 years, museums and art galleries or lesser-known natural areas and animals in these areas can be accessed through VisitIzmir, Soyer said, “Users can access detailed information, photos, and videos about these points from VisitIzmir regardless of the value they want to discover. We mainly considered three types of use when creating VisitIzmir. The first of these is the establishment of connections between different tourism points in İzmir. Users can see the points of interest around them through the map in the application. They can access information about how to get to an area anywhere in İzmir, current events, concerts, theatre, and other artistic performances. Another use includes both people from İzmir and tourists. Just like a social media platform, users can comment on İzmir's touristic values and share their ideas with other users. In addition, they can like points of interest, add them to their favourites, and suggest new points. In other words, VisitIzmir is constantly updated as a constantly developing and growing digital medium in interaction, not a static infrastructure. Finally, VisitIzmir is a promotional medium for all users everywhere in the world. Anyone who wants to get to know İzmir from newly added places to thousands of years old archaeological sites can do this with VisitIzmir.”
“İzmir is the first city to complete its digital tourism infrastructure”
Stating that İzmir is the first city to complete its digital tourism infrastructure thanks to this comprehensive study, that more than 2,600 points of interest are currently processed in VisitIzmir, and that this number is increasing day by day, Soyer emphasized that Russian and Chinese will be added to the language options, which were initially in Turkish and English, in the following months.
Stating that every time a user becomes a member of VisitIzmir, they will also have the tag “İzmir-Friendly”, Soyer said, “Every interaction, such as commenting and liking gives users points. Users who collect 8,500 points become ‘İzmir Ambassador’. We will provide different advantages to our İzmir ambassadors in the following period. Discount in hotels and restaurants is a few of the things we have in mind. VisitIzmir completely meets a need in İzmir. Thus, the main goal of our tourism strategy is to complete the backbone of our policy to spread tourism to 12 months and 30 districts. Any traveller from anywhere in the world will be able to access all kinds of information about access to the tourism destination in the most remote corner of İzmir very quickly thanks to the VisitIzmir application. There are very few cities in the world with an urban tourism application in this detail. This is a first in Turkey. For this reason, the study will contribute greatly to the emergence of İzmir as a different destination in the Mediterranean and worldwide. Our goal for İzmir is to host as many as the population of our city, namely 4 million domestic and foreign tourists, in the period when the pandemic conditions have disappeared.”
President Soyer said, “Many institutions have contributed to the development of VisitIzmir, the creation of content related to thousands of points, software, and design. First of all, I would like to thank all the experts who contributed to the formation of the contents. I would like to thank İzmir Foundation, İzmir Development Agency, and our municipal company ÜNİBEL, with its new name İZTEK teams, which has successfully completed our project. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Sun Express, which has become a part of this project by supporting us.”
Governor Köşger: “I believe the industry will regain its old momentum”
Yavuz Selim Köşger, the Governor of İzmir, emphasized the importance of VisitIzmir and said: “I hope that such activities will lead to the introduction of İzmir and to the improvement of the quality of life in İzmir. I would like to thank everyone who have contributed. People of İzmir worked non-stop during this off-peak period. They continued their activities related to the promotion of İzmir. I believe the industry will regain its old momentum with the normalisation period in the 2021 tourism season with the widespread vaccination rate”.
“It is our duty to promote İzmir correctly”
Mahmut Özgener, the Chairman of İzmir Chamber of Commerce said: “VisitIzmir, which is prepared with İzmir Foundation and İZKA, which we are proud to be its stakeholders, is a very important step, as İzmir Chamber of Commerce. It is an important information bank that gathers all the information that a traveller looking for about İzmir under one roof.”
VisitIzmir, which is a city guide carried out entirely with domestic software by İzmir Technology (formerly known as ÜNİBEL), the software company of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, serves both via mobile application and website. All the contents of VisitIzmir can also be accessed through the website visitizmir.org. The application, which can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play and App Store, has two language options: Turkish and English.