UNWTO Affiliate Board Member Candidate

Yalçın Lokmanhekim

General Manager

Dear UNWTO Affiliate Member,

Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) is delighted to present our candidacy to serve as the Global Member/European Member on the Board of Directors of the Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

It will be an honor for us to contribute to the future of the tourism industry on an international scale by working together with our UNWTO partners to promote the adoption of responsible, sustainable global tourism. We believe the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and travel provides us with a unique opportunity to shape a new future for our vital sector and ensure we recover sustainably and inclusively in a way that empowers both industry stakeholders and communities across the world.

As a young, dynamic tourism body representing a historic, iconic, and well-established destination, TGA will bring an electrifying combination of tried-and-tested expertise with fresh, innovative ideas to help achieve UNWTO’s mission.

Founded on July 15, 2019 to unite Türkiye’s thriving tourism value chain under one umbrella organization, TGA is a semi-government entity that is dedicated to delivering Türkiye as a world-class brand in both domestic and international markets. We have been proud UNWTO Affiliate Members since 2020, while the state of Türkiye has enjoyed strong ties with UNWTO since 1975 and is a dedicated member of its Executive Council.

Our country is one of the most popular destinations in the world; International arrivals are attracted by our unique blend of diverse natural landscapes, heritage, history, faith, gastronomy, and adventure-fueled experiences that connect the cultures of two continents.

Just a few short months after TGA’s founding, we were presented with an unprecedented challenge when the pandemic caused the closing of international borders. We acted quickly to maintain the trust of all players in Türkiye’s vibrant tourism industry, while progressing with our long-term mandate of boosting and diversifying the national tourism capacity.

Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, other ministries, and private sector stakeholders, we launched the “Safe Tourism Certification Program” on 1 June 2020, subsequently certifying over 11,000 tourism suppliers as compliant with COVID-19 health and safety regulations. During the same period, TGA developed and launched the GoTürkiye digital platform, which showcases thousands of diverse and sustainable experiences and activities to suit every kind of traveler

Our candidacy is represented by Dr. Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu, TGA’s Vice General Manager – Tourism Operations & Development

Elif’s career in the tourism, travel, hospitality, meetings, and destination marketing industry spans more than 25 years, specializing in tourism product development and destination and nation marketing. A highly regarded advocate for the sustainable development of global tourism with an outstanding reputation, Elif has held a broad spectrum of senior positions in corporate brands, NGOs and DMOs in both Türkiye and Europe.

We request your vote for our candidate to join the Board of Directors of the Affiliate Members of UNWTO and achieve this prestigious group’s mission of promoting tourism as force of global good through knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

We are grateful for your support and submit our credentials for your consideration.

Yalçın Lokmanhekim

General Manager


Who we are

Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) was founded by the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism as the national tourism board on July 15, 2019, with a mandate to achieve the next developmental stage of Türkiye’s national tourism strategy. We work in close cooperation with the Ministry to build and
deliver on sector strategy and policies at a regional and national level.

Our leadership and management structure

As a semi-government entity, TGA represents public and private actors at all levels of Türkiye’s tourism industry. Our leadership consists of the Board of Directors, Executive Board and Advisory Boar

The Board of Directors is the decision-making body and is chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism. The Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Director General of Promotion of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and 12 elected regional and sector representatives form the other 14 Board Members.

Our Activities

TGA is responsible for marketing Türkiye as a destination in domestic and international markets. We manage a
diverse number of communications functions in a variety of languages, including: brand communication; PR and
corporate communications; tourism product development; CRM and guest experience; digital marketing and
social media; and cities and regions marketing strategy.

Over the past year we have been looking to the future while safeguarding and strengthening the ability of Türkiye’s tourism service providers to thrive in the current challenging environment. Our core long-term strategic pillars aim to ensure Türkiye remains a global destination of choice as borders reopen and the freedom to travel increases.

Destination Marketing Strategy

We unite 7 regions and 81 cities under the TGA umbrella, leading cohesive national and international promotion and development of these destinations across digital advertising, website content, social media, TV and magazines

We work with our regional and city partners on a range of initiatives that ensure the promotion of Türkiye as a nation brand remains consistent across all stakeholders

— Tourism and cultural product development

  • Stakeholder training on promotional materials
  • Sharing promotional materials on the GoTurkiye platform
  • Coordination of traditional/digital marketing and infuencer hosting

— Destination Master Plan and Destination
Management and Marketing Model

  • Developing exemplary strategic DMOs for each destination
  • Adaptation for each city or region according to key characteristics
  • Sharing private digital data and trends

Safe Tourism Certification Program

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and with the cooperation and support of other crucial ministries and all private sector stakeholders, TGA launched our nationwide “Safe Tourism Certification Program” on 1 June 2020. This program certifies that service providers at all stages of the tourist journey deliver outstanding service in line with national health and safety regulations, ensuring borders can remain open and each visitor is guaranteed a high-quality, safe, unforgettable experience from arrival to departure. The protocol and certification processes ensure:

  • Passenger health and safety
  • Measures are taken in transportation vehicles
  • Measures are taken in facilities such as hotels
  • Employee health and safety

The program is unique compared to other national COVID-19 compliancy programs.

This process requires the cooperation and support of Türkiye’s entire tourism ecosystem. Thanks to their trust and collaboration, by October 2021 we achieved:

  • 11,636 facilities and vehicles certified in total
  • 6,060 active certified facilities
  • 4,841 active certified accommodations
Safe Tourism


Tourism Product Development
(Digital Platform: GoTurkiye.com)

uring the same period, TGA developed and launched the GoTürkiye digital platform, which
packages thousands of experiences and
activities across Turkish cities and provinces into an easy-to-navigate
and enticing user experience.

– 10 languages

– 102 destinations, cities and regions

– 62 tourism product titles identified

– New products developed include:

  • Gastronomy tourism
  • Health tourism
  • Faith tourism
  • Cruise tourism
  • Bicycle tourism
  • Halal tourism
  • MICE tourism
  • Destination Weddings
  • Sustainability

Our vision for tourism as a UNWTO Affiliate Board Member

TGA’s young lifespan has been marked by the greatest challenge that modern global tourism has ever reckoned with.
Even as international travel recovers to pre-pandemic levels, our industry will still be impacted by COVID-19 for decades to come. Yet, this unprecedented crisis offers us the opportunity to create new initiatives that build back a form of tourism and travel that is more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient.

We work with our regional and city partners on a range of initiatives that ensure the promotion of Türkiye as a nation brand remains consistent across all stakeholders

As the Global Member/European Member on the Board of Directors of the UNWTO Affiliate Members, we will advocate for:


The sustainable recovery of tourism requires both the public and private sector take responsibility for our industry’s growth. We would be glad to share our experiences and exchange knowledge about implementing safe, sustainable tourism, which we believe is required for the recovery of global tourism. Together with our Ministry of Culture and Tourism serving in the UNWTO Executive Council, TGA is also ready to strengthen solid cooperation as a UNWTO Affiliate Member to develop tourism policies, strategize promotional activities, and add value to UNWTO’s prestigious global network.

Diversification of sustainable tourism offerings

Türkiye’s Tourism Strategy for 2023 prioritizes diversification and sustainability. Many of Türkiye’s accommodation facilities have international and national ecolabels and our leading chain hotels are pioneers in their sectors with sustainable practices that protect the world we live in. Also, within the scope of sustainable tourism, Türkiye has established the “Bicycle Friendly Accommodation Facilities Certificate” to promote bicycle tourism. TGA will assist other destinations to boost their tourism product capacity in line with sustainability principles.

Bridging the public and private sector

TGA is a semi-government entity that bridges Türkiye’s public and private sectors, and we employ an inclusive model that works to benefit parties at all levels of the industry. We believe the new model for global tourism must be based on inclusivity, and we would like to mobilize our national expertise to enhance the vital public-private business network in our sector. The private actors in the tourism industry must have a voice and be considered when major decisions are made – we cannot continue to implement policies and regulations without consulting the stakeholders they impact the most.

Dr. Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu

Vice General Manager

Meet Dr. Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu

Dr. Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu is Vice General Manager – Tourism Operations & Development at the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), a position she was appointed to in January 2020 following her 25-year illustrious career in travel and tourism. Elif is a highly respected tourism professional and recognized globally across the industry for her strategic expertise, innovation, and ability to scale an organization’s growth effectively, sustainably, and quickly.

Elif has held senior and managerial positions in diverse organizations across all aspects of the Turkish and European tourism spheres, including fourteen years at Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau (ICVB). First in senior sales and marketing positions before serving for four years as General Manager, Elif spearheaded the roll-out of ICVB’s innovative public-private partnership
model, which resulted in Istanbul breaking into the top 10 congress destinations in 2010.

Elif also served for two years as Regional Director – Europe at the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where she represented the region’s diverse membership of 580 organizations from 48 countries, from hotels to airlines to DMCs and beyond

As Regional Director – Europe at ICCA, Elif played a core role in establishing the organization’s partnership with UNWTO, which saw the two entities launch a series of masterclasses to educate tourism professionals and government officials about the benefit of cultivating the national meetings industry. The partnership indicates that international intergovernmental organizations are formally recognizing how business events contribute to worldwide development.

n addition to her former positions, she has held several volunteer and board positions at international industry associations such as European Cities Marketing, ICCA, Global Destination Sustainability Advisory Board, MPI- Meeting Professional International and SKAL International Istanbul Club.

Elif holds a PhD in Public Relations and Promotion from Istanbul University and has been awarded the 2019 Ace of MICE Outstanding Service Award in Türkiye, alongside a range of other industry accolades