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Turkey’s first posterThe Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey, which is both an amateur and international organization dedicated to tourism and the automobile sector, was founded in 1923 at the behest of Gazi Mustafa Kemal. Similarly to its exemplars in Europe, it was founded by a group of intellectuals led by Reşit Saffet Atabinen who was an extremely well-read diplomat and historian. First, it was called “The Turkish Travel Association” (“Türk Seyyahin Cemiyeti”), then its name was changed to “Touring Club Turc” (“Türkiye Turing Klöbü”). In 1930 it was recognized as a charity functioning as a public utılity and gained special powers and duties with regard to the customs and traffic laws.

The club filled a gap and met an important need by working as an arm of government for many years in the fields of tourism, culture and technical issues. It was its considerable achievement to produce Turkey’s first prospectuses, posters, tourist guides and road maps. In addition, the Association inaugurated the very first language courses, established the first tourist guide exams, published the first tourism treatises and organised the first tourism congresses and conferences. Thus, the requirements of tourism began to be addressed through a new methodology in the application of state mechanisms, laws and systems. At that time, the Association was located in a two-roomed apartment in Adalet Khan building on Voyvoda Street, Galata, and had only two employees....However, a great deal of voluntary work was done by a small number of well- travelled and cosmopolitan club members: President Reşit Saffet Atabinen, Cevdet Özögül, ex-Governor of Jerusalem, and Şükrü Ali, a retired army colonel.... .......The generous gift of even one of whose services to the social development of the Turkish people, would have been enough to assure any Club member a place in the annals of the country’s tourism history.

Our Founder: Reşit Saffet AtabinenDuring the period between 1923 and 1939, the crowning event has to have been the hosting of the International Touring Alliance (AIT) meeting in Istanbul. This was an extraordinary achievement for a new member with a very limited cadre and budget. It was for this purpose that Dolmabahçe Palace was opened to tourism for the first time in its history. The honour for this extraordinary event belongs to the then President of the Association, Atabinen. Ataturk formally opened the palace for the ceremony and announced to the Istanbul press that he was taking the Touring Club Association under his personal protection. He knew Atabinen well from the armistice years and as a neighbour in Akaretler. Atatürk, not only trusted him to undertake the translation of the famous “Nutuk” into French, but also introduced him to Parliament, as a member, for two legislative terms.

The newspaper article regarding Atatürk’s adoption of our Association.In the 1950’s when the economy of both Turkey and the world started to revive, the Association, with its original employees and system, was seen to be somewhat stagnant and a long way from being able to undertake the responsibilities of its new functions. First, the Office was moved to a flat on the second floor of Moralı Pasage at Tepebaşı Square where it remained for five years. Later, it moved to the second floor of Nil Pasaj in Asmalı Mescit street for a period of ten years. The manager was Said N.Duhani (Beyoğlu author). Çelik Gülersoy, was first taken on as an employee in 1947, became Assistant Manager in 1957 and was Legal Consultant between 1961 and 1965.

Reşit Saffet Atabinen, founder and first president of the foundation was an internationally respected individual who devoted his whole life to cultural events. He died in 1965 after a Club Presidency of 42 years. After his death, Çelik Gülersoy who had been a member of the Association since 1947, was promoted to General Manager. Thus, a new, western-inspired era began.

Said N.Duhani,  Manager of the Association in the 1950’s- The first high-way recovery service was established,
- The system of tourist credits was started,
- The first colour-printed books in foreign languages were published,
- The first tourist “information” services were provided.

During this period, the building in Şişli Square was bought, a contemporary working environment was created and the workforce was expanded.

The year 1971 was the turning point in the history of the Association: The contract which was signed between the Ministry of Customs and Finance and the Association, not only gained Turkey an important amount of foreign currency, but also created a source of income for the Association to use for the funding of important cultural and artistic events.

The Association pioneered the system of granting temporary import licenses (which were a kind of guarantee voucher for Turkish customs) at the border, to Turkish people who lived abroad and were coming to Turkey for holidays with their cars. This application was fifty percent cheaper to the car owners than that charged by European Clubs.

In 1979, an agreement was made between the Municipality of Istanbul and the Association about the building, development and administration of parks and pavilions in Istanbul. Thus, a period characterised by the cherishing of cultural, artistic and touristic places had begun.

In the summer of 1990, the sudden removal of the obligation to take a temporary import document from customs, deprived the Association of its main income source and started a new period of financial difficulties.

The Club tried to cover this financial handicap by selling its properties one-by-one. Among these properties, there were The Koru Hotel in Bolu, The Kariye Hotel and various houses which the Club had been building and restoring since 1974.

At the end of 1994, the Municipality of Istanbul did not renew the agreement on parks and pavilions and asked the Club to vacate these premises:

- In Yıldız Park: The Malta Pavilion, The Çadır (Tent) Pavilion, The Pembe and Yeşil Conservatories (The Pink and Yellow Conservatories).
- In Emirgan Park: The Beyaz (White) Pavilion, The Sarı (Yellow) Pavilion and The Pembe (Pink) Pavilion.
- The facilities on Çamlıca Hill.
- The Summer Palace of the Khedive (Hıdiv).

In the same year, the central offices of the Association were moved from their address in Şişli Square to the property facing TEM motorway at the 1st Oto Sanayi Sitesi.

E-mail : turing@turing.org.tr
Address : 1. Oto Sanayi Sitesi yanı, 4. Levent - İstanbul
Telephone : (0212) 282 81 40
- Telefax : (0212) 282 80 42

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