Bridging eastern and non-eastern Turkey: A study on the effectiveness of a tourism-based intervention
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Living in eastern versus non-eastern Turkey reflects not merely a geographical distinction but, instead, indicates the deep sociocultural disaffection between easterners and non-easterners. To address this polarity, "We are Anatolia" [Biz Anadoluyuz] is designed as a four-day tourism-based intervention to improve the attitudes of adolescents from eastern and non-eastern Turkey towards one other. In this project, easterners visit a non-eastern city; non-easterners, an eastern one. The visitors' tourist experiences are enriched by ensuring pre-programmed direct contact activities with inhabitants of the host city in recreational settings and by increasing the salience of common ingroup identity between visitors and hosts. The present study (N = 1043) evaluated the effectiveness of this project through a pre-and post-test design with a control group. The visitors' contact intentions, psychological closeness, and warmth towards the inhabitants of the host city were assessed at the first (T1) and last days of the trips (T2), as well as three months later (T3). Except for contact intentions, participants (especially non-easterners) showed a positive change from T1 to T2 and preserved that improvement in T3. However, the intervention-related changes demonstrated only small effect sizes; moreover, no difference existed between the treatment and control groups regarding their short-term gains. We discuss the potential of tourism for societal peace.