Turkish Aegean coast establishes sustainable and regional cuisine based on a “scientific recipe” from MODUL University Vienna

Scientific expertise in the area of sustainable tourism has helped the MODUL University Vienna to secure a prestigious commission from Germany: experts from the university’s Department for Tourism and Service Management will introduce sustainable food products to hotels on the Turkish Aegean coast through a coaching and communications project. The project was commissioned by the renowned German sustainability initiative, Futouris, and ÖGER TOURS, Germany’s leading tour operator specialized in travel to Turkey. The aim is to introduce sustainable food principles in popular holiday destinations and in this way contribute to climate protection and the promotion of regional – and often traditional – food producers.

Sustainability is an increasingly important topic – in the tourism sector too. For this reason, 2017 was proclaimed the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Scientists at MODUL University Vienna have been carrying out research on this topic for a considerable time now, and their results have proved very relevant to practice in the sector. This is demonstrated by a commission they have received from Germany to develop sustainable food concepts for hotel complexes on the Aegean coast of Turkey.

As part of the project called ''Taste the Culture'', training courses are being developed with the local project partner and organic-farming expert Gürsel Tonbul to convey the benefits and value of sustainable and regional food. These training units will be tested in practice and optimized where required.

"We will begin by explaining to the hotel workers what terms like "local", "regional" and "biological" actually mean in the gastronomic context," explains Professor Dagmar Lund-Durlacher. "In addition, it is planned to establish interactive training units in which the employees will visit sustainable agricultural operations in the region and get to know their working methods."

This practice-oriented training, which is being developed at MODUL University Vienna in cooperation with Gürsel Tonbul, will be rounded off with cooking classes in which the processing and consumption of sustainable and conventional food products will be assessed through direct comparison. Overall, this part of the project will focus on teaching about sustainability in all major aspects of food and cuisine: purchasing, processing and presentation.

The second part of the project will focus on the hotels' customers – the holidaymakers. Their attention will be drawn to the sustainable orientation of the hotel operations. The focus of the communication here is on the prominence of the regional cuisine and use of regional and sustainable food products. Professor Lund-Durlacher explains: "It is very important for customer satisfaction to make holidaymakers aware of the sustainable, regional and organic nature of the food provided for them. Satisfied customers are prepared to acknowledge and pay for this and will ensure its long-term success."

Professor Lund-Durlacher's team was able to gather experience in the communication of such topics in the Tyrol region, where they have already carried out a similar pilot project for the provision of such information to hotel guests. Another pilot project is also due to be carried out in Gran Canaria. The results of these projects will be incorporated into the Taste the Culture project. Further adaptations to regional requirements will also follow in the course of its implementation.

MODUL University Vienna was commissioned to carry out this pioneering project by the German initiative for sustainable tourism Futouris (www.futouris.org) and ÖGER TOURS, Germany’s leading tour operator specialized in travel to Turkey (www.oeger.de). Thanks to its strong scientific reputation, MU was previously commissioned by Futouris to carry out basic research on sustainable food in tourism. Through the TSM department's 'sustainable food' study, they were able to show how food and drink in hotels and on cruises can be organized on a sustainable basis while also promoting local value-added chains. The study attracted a widespread positive response in the sector in 2016.