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Discovering Dalyan - Turkey Fights for Tourism With DOKTOB

Community Projects

DOKTOB is the Dalyan, Ortaca and Köyceğiz Association of Touristic Hoteliers and they are much more than an organisation of people who run hotels. DOKTOB is instrumental in looking after the local area and in planning new and exciting initiatives to improve Dalyan and its surrounding towns. I am incredibly pleased and proud to have partnered with them on this exposé and it was a great pleasure to meet and stay with Yücel Okutur and his wife Fulya at the stunning Dalyan Resort Hotel in March. While I was in Dalyan then, Yücel took great time to show me around some of the lesser known areas of Dalyan and to introduce me and in turn you, my readers, to the exciting projects that DOKTOB have planned for the area in the future.

First and foremost, DOKTOB’s main concern is about preserving the area’s beautiful and untouched nature and Dalyan’s traditional charm. Of course, they do run businesses in Dalyan and the future of tourism is a concern for everybody here at the moment. In a town where in the past businesses have tended to compete with each other, this year there is a smell of community in the air, with business owners of all kinds coming together to try and create a better Dalyan for the locals and for tourism. With the town’s economy and the lives of the locals being so dependent on the tourist trade, in my eyes it is an absolute must that everybody unites and it is such a relief to see a group of people who have vision and intent.

Yucel and Fulya Okutur

Yücel Okutur, President of DOKTOB and his wife Fulya, manager of the Dalyan Resort Hotel

Through my conversations with Yücel and Fulya, I was genuinely amazed at the sheer amount of ideas and plans that DOKTOB have for Dalyan. It is also warming that it is not just Dalyan that the organisation are concerned with. While the official area covered by DOKTOB includes only Dalyan, Ortaca and Köyceğiz, Yücel, President of the Association, has also made efforts to include towns such as Çandır and other areas of the Muğla Province as an attempt to bring the area together so that they can benefit from each other. A very clear example of this is DOKTOB’s relationship with Muğla University. While I will be writing about the University itself later in the exposé, this article discusses the important work that DOTKOB has been doing in the area, including some of the projects that are partnered with Muğla University.

Electric Boats

Perhaps the most important project as far as the natural environment of the Dalyan River, Köyceğiz Lake and the protection of the local Nile and Loggerhead Turtles is concerned, is the already implemented project to convert all of the local boats to electric engines. There are currently 594 registered boats in Dalyan alone and all of them use oil and petrol engines. Recently, the local council and Muğla University have started to take samples of the water around Dalyan and the lake to check that its pollution levels are kept low and safe. As a result of this, it became apparent that the current petrol run engines are causing problems for the natural environment.

Electric Engines

New Electric Boat Engines

At the moment, the petrol engines used in the Dalyan boats are dropping oil residue into the waters which eventually sink and pollute the bottom of the river bed and lake. There has already been an initiative set up in Dalyan which involves river cleaning, run by expat environmentalists Dalyanli. Each week, a group of expatriates sail the river and pick up any rubbish that has made its way into the water. Local boat owners also make a concerted effort to pick up any rubbish that may be floating on the lake and river. I for one have rarely seen anything resembling rubbish on the water and this is a testament to Dalyanli and the boat captains who clearly want to keep their natural environment as clean as possible. Once a year, a team of divers scour the lake and river beds and clean it up, ridding it of rubbish and oil residues as much as they are able to. However, it has become apparent over recent years that the town needs to think long term if they are to preserve the area and keep it in its natural and beautiful state.

So, DOKTOB decided that if the boats were electric, this would help to solve many of the problems that the waters around Dalyan are facing and the project is now a priority. Obviously, to change the engines in 594 boats is quite an undertaking and one that is going to take time, money and the support of the local boat owners. Originally, the plan was to use solar power as this energy is renewable and practically costless once the panels are installed on the boat. However, it would have cost close to 100,000TL (approx. £24,000) per boat to fit the technology, so it was decided that at a cost of 5,000TL per boat (approx. £1,200), electric was the way forward.

New Electric Engine

Improved Electric Boat Engine

Local organisation GEKA, The Southern Asian Region Development Association, have agreed to help fund the project by offering interest free loans to all boat owners in Dalyan in order to change their boat engines. The full amount needed will be offered and they will be given a year to return the money from their season’s takings, rather than boat owners needing a bank loan. In the long run, the boat owners will benefit too, as electric will be much cheaper than oil and petrol. The plan is to fit electric charging posts along the river where boats can moor.

It is still a work in progress as at the moment the technology found can only run the boats for a certain amount of time and the last thing that anybody wants is tourists stranded on the river! However, it seems that it is only a matter of time before the engines planned are more reliable and more efficient than what is used at the moment. Six boats in Dalyan have already changed to electric engines and one has the more improved and efficient version. Some of the benefits of using electric engines include less pollution therefore reducing global warming, no pollution in the local environment, no grunge under the motor, no smell, very little maintenance, higher reliability and of course noise, so Dalyan is destined to be a much quieter place!

Art Street Project

A project run in partnership between DOKTOB and Muğla University’s Department of Architecture is the intent to build Dalyan into a more traditionally Turkish town. Dalyan has always managed to maintain some of the homeland charm compared to resorts like Marmaris and Antalya and this has always been one of the main draws for visitors, especially those who return again and again. However, with the town being so dependent on tourism, there will always be a danger that Dalyan will grow to be more touristy in an attempt to attract more visitors. With Iztuzu beach and the beauty of the river and natural surrounding areas, fortunately the government and local councils have imposed protection orders on the town which means that is highly unlikely, in the foreseeable future, that we will ever see high rise hotels or chain restaurants here. But the town has already grown exponentially in the past 20 years, so it is impossible to say where Dalyan will be in another twenty. With the initiatives of DOKTOB and Muğla University, perhaps Dalyan will always be the charming and beautiful place that tourists have come to know.

Traditional Dalyan

Traditional Dalyan

The Art Street Project involves the University’s Department of Architecture as it plans to renovate the whole town and its buildings. The organisations plan to renovate “City Furnitures”. This means that they will be improving local buildings, tidying them up, repainting and restoring. They also intend to add extended balconies to certain buildings in the town to make them appear more like traditional Turkish properties, In addition to this great work, all of the town’s sign boards, which includes road signs and business advertisement boards will be designed to look more traditional and less intrusive, lights will be changed too and pavements will be restored to increase safety and generally just make the town look prettier.

Dalyan has much going for it, but to keep its traditional charm and indeed to enhance it in the future will make the town even more endearing and will set it apart from its competing destinations locally. If Dalyan is to continue to compete in the Turkish tourism economy, I wholeheartedly agree with DOKTOB that to offer something different from the brashness, neon lights and party vibes of other Mediterranean resorts is the way forward and hopefully my readers will too.

Museum Project

An application to Ortaca Council has already been submitted by DOKTOB and Muğla University to open a museum in the centre of Dalyan which will celebrate the history, natural resources and animal inhabitants of the area. It is hoped that the museum which will of course be inviting tourists to learn about Dalyan and the Muğla Province, will be completed and open for the 2018 season. There will be two locations used for the museum, both next door to each other and easily accessible in the centre of town. The existing “Winter Wedding Building” which sits behind the main street of Dalyan, close to the Post Office will house part of the museum along with the “Old Jandarma Building” which is located opposite.

With the ancient city of Kaunos being so close by, it plays a huge part in the tourism of the area. Many visitors will take the lovely little rowing boats across the river to “The Other Side” and walk up to the ancient city to spend the day exploring the ruins. Dalyan has also introduced a vehicle ferry, and initiative run by local man Taner Yalılı, which was also supported by DOKTOB. This will make Kaunos much more accessible for those who might have difficulties getting there. The ferry leaves from the port next to the Portakal Hotel and sails a short journey across the river to the opposing bank, perfect for those who want to drive to Kaunos of the nearby village of Çandır. But the museum project will bring Kaunos to Dalyan.



The Old Jandarma Building will promote the history of Dalyan and its surrounding areas and the intention is to bring parts of Kaunos to Dalyan where the ruins and historians can tell the stories of the immense history which surrounds Dalyan and the Muğla Province. With such a rich past and 156 civilisations having resided in Dalyan, it is so important that visitors are able to learn how Dalyan came to be, who used to love it as much as the locals do today and why civilisations saw it as a great place to live.

The “Winter Wedding Building” will be home to the nature of Dalyan. Part of the building will be dedicated to the turtles of Iztuzu Beach and tourists will be able to meet some of the turtles who are being rehabilitated in the centre of Dalyan itself. This means that they will not need to extend the Turtle Hospital at Iztuzu which is now a protected area and can’t be built on. In 2015, the Turtle Hospital was given to Muğla University who are now responsible for the hospital is built on and the beach itself, so it is fitting that the museum should celebrate this. The other section of the “Winter Wedding Building” will explore the amazing nature of the local area by teaching visitors about the flora and fauna which originates and is exclusive to Dalyan and Muğla.

Beauty Products

Linked to the nature section of the new museum is Muğla University’s Ecology, Research and Application Centre which researches and teaches about the area’s food and agriculture. Included in this department is a Cosmetics Research Lab which works to create healing cosmetics from the local flora and fauna of the area. Scientists spend their days analysing local plants and extracting pure oils from them in order to create creams and oils which benefit skin conditions and muscular problems as well as bruising.

Flora of Mugla

Flora of Muğla

So important is this work to the local area, that the government fund it with five million Turkish Lira a year. Any products sold bring 25% of profit back to the project. Being a nature fanatic, President of DOKTOB, Yücel Okutur was keen to get involved and you can purchase these fantastic lotions at the Dalyan Resort Hotel.

Nag Demir Cosmetics

Nag Demir Cosmetics

Rehabilitation Centre

Another DOKTOB initiative that will surely help to put Dalyan on the map, is the planned introduction of a residential rehabilitation centre, located close to the town centre. Initially it was thought that the centre would be built in Istanbul and it was Mr Okutur and DOKTOB who pushed for the plans to be moved to Dalyan. Their belief is that there is so much in the local area which would benefit those who need rehabilitation, including the mud baths, the thermal springs, swimming, natural medication resources, the weather and the calmness of the town.

Thermal Spring Waters

Thermal Spring Waters

The plan is for the facility to be a residential home for the elderly or those in need of rehabilitation, with carers and doctors on hand to help in needed. Guests and residents will be given daily plans and they will have the natural beauty and healing properties of Dalyan at their fingertips. I for one know where I would like to live out my days! Muğa University is also playing a huge part in the plans for this facility and as I will mention in a later article, health tourism in the Province is a priority to the University, especially with a new government funded teaching hospital on the grounds of the University, aimed at expatriate health. The intention of the University and DOKTOB is to make Dalyan and its surrounding areas an attractive place for health tourism and retirees.

A Handicap Friendly Town

The planned residential rehabilitation centre of course, all leads to the current plans in place to build Dalyan into a more handicap friendly town, which is a must if the town wants to attract visitors of that ilk. GEKA, who I mentioned before, is a government association which funds community projects and they quite rightly have their teeth in this one too! With the help of the Ortaca Municipality, Muğla University and GEKA, his particular project has become a high priority for Dalyan and DOKTOB.

There are so many plans in place which are going to make the town itself and adjoining areas much more accessible to all. Already, the town and DOKTOB have introduced the new Dalyan Ferry which can ship vehicles of all kinds from scooters to trucks over to “The Other Side” making Kaunos and Çandır easier to reach. In addition to this, wheelchair friendly cars will be made available for anybody travelling to Dalyan from Dalaman Airport and there will be Iztuzu Beach transport for up to twelve wheelchair users too.

The Dalyan Ferry

The Dalyan Ferry

All pavements, in conjunction with the “Street Art Project” and the University’s Architecture Department, will be improved with safety in mind and wheelchairs, with regular ramps fitted to ensure accessibility. There are already rules in place that every restaurant in Dalyan should have ramps fitted if needed to ensure that wheelchair users or those with walking problems can get in and out, but not all restaurants have necessarily followed the rules. In the future, this will be an official requirement of all restaurants and bars and hotels will also be required to have a percentage of their rooms as wheelchair and disabled friendly and all of their public areas accessible.

Iztuzu Beach

Iztuzu Beach

Iztuzu Beach is also following suit. In addition to the new transport facilities, wheelchair friendly pathways are going to put in from the car park to the restaurant area on the land side of the beach and out to the sea. They are also providing sun beds for the disabled with proper arms and at an appropriate height and disabled toilets and showers are also being added. It is hoped that this initiative will be in place all over Dalyan and Iztuzu by the start of the 2017 season, but at the latest, the project will be completed by May 2018.

So as you can see, there are a lot of positive plans for the future of Dalyan and this is just touching the surface of the ideas that DOKTOB and Muğla University have. Let us know what you think. Do you believe that Dalyan should be kept as traditional as possible? Do you like the fact that Dalyan is less touristy than other resorts in Turkey? Will you benefit from the new plans to make the town more accessible to wheelchair users and the disabled? Do you have any ideas about what else Dalyan needs to keep it alive in the future?

Is it safe to visit Turkey?

The Dalyan exposé has begun! The project will run until the 23rd of May and will include a lot of exciting articles and videos on our YouTube channel with interesting interviews with business owners and those who work in tourism in Turkey. We'll also be tackling safety issues and what terrorism means for Turkey and the beautiful riverside town of Dalyan.

See our Exposé Page Here

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