Examining the potential impacts of 2017 European youth Olympic winter festival (EYOWF) in Erzurum, Turkey

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This paper examines the perception of international visitors and athletes of 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOWF), which will be held in Erzurum-Turkey. EYOF is one of the top multisport events for young European athletes where they have their first Olympic experience. As a relatively new concept, the EYOFs are organized in two-year cycles as summer and winter editions. Even though EYOF bears in general ambience of Olympic, it is far smaller in size than Olympic Games from many perspectives and its effects are more limited for the host city. However, for the host cities, EYOF can still serve as a serious organizational experience and as a reference point for hosting similar events. EYOWF is a new concept for Olympic tradition and this paper discusses the potential impacts of EYOWF 2017 in Erzurum, Turkey case. Turkey is awarded both the winter and summer EYOFs. First, Trabzon hosted the 2011 Summer EYOF and then with the positive legacy of the 2011 Winter Universiade, Erzurum is selected as the host city for the 2017 EYOWF. The 13th edition of Winter EYOF will be held in Erzurum from 11 February to 18 February 2017. Approximately 1,500 young athletes from 45 European countries will compete in different sporting events. EYOWF 2017 will also attract thousands of spectators, journalists, and volunteers along with the athletes, couches and staff members. EYOWF is not just a sporting event, but also an important event with a potential to leave significant legacies to the host city. EYOWF is a unique opportunity for Erzurum to increase the recognition of the city as a winter sport center and to leave significant legacies to the city. A successful staging of EYOWF will serve as a catalyst to activate the potential of Erzurum, especially reinforcing city image, promoting and branding Erzurum as a winter sport destination, attracting more tourists and encouraging them to stay for a longer time, and increasing local economic activities. EYOWF will also bring out the winter potential of the city with a positive impact on other alternative types of tourism, and will open other doors for Erzurum. In this sense, this paper seeks to discover; the perceptions of international visitors and athletes towards EYOWF 2017 Organization and towards the city of Erzurum; to discuss the impacts of EYOWF on Erzurum; to examine the success of EYOWF planning process; and to identify potential issue areas from the visitors’ and athletes’ point of view. In this paper, the data will be gathered from personal observations, primary and secondary resources, and surveys, which will be conducted on EYOWF sites in order to identify the perceptions of international visitors and athletes as well as to examine the tangible and intangible benefits of EYOWF for Erzurum. The survey form includes several items including the questions dealing with EYOWF planning, transport to the EYOWF site, accommodations, security, variety of activities, Erzurum city image and infrastructure. Although EYOWF is a new concept for Olympic tradition, it is still one of the sporting events with a potential to impact the host city in several aspects in both short and long term. The impacts of EYOWF on host cities have largely remained understudied. This study represents an initial attempt to explore the potential benefits and possible impacts of relatively less studied EYOWF on Erzurum city case and this study hopefully will lead to new studies and projects in this area.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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