During my June 2003 trip in Turkey
I was interviewed (in Turkish) by Mr
M Yüksel Özbek of TÜRSAB
Magazine, the official publication
of the Association of Turkish
Travel Agencies. The interview
was published in the magazine's August
2003 issue and on the TÜRSAB
website in Engish and Turkish. (Sohbetin
Türkçesi için burada
Here's the English translation:
TÜRSAB MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2003
Text and Photos, M. Yüksel
The American tourism writer Tom
Brosnahan wrote 5 books related to
Turkey and one Istanbul guide which
sold nearly 300 thousands since 1971.
If we suppose that 1.5 persons read
each book, Brosnahan presented Turkey
to 500 thousand persons through these
Tom Brosnahan, a US citizen
and living in Boston, is a tourism writer. What differs
him from others is that he’s a passionate of
the culture of this country pointed out by these
words:"Turkey is my nation and Istanbul is
my city when I look down to the earth from the plane."
Five books updated related to Turkey and
one Istanbul guide
book sold nearly 300 thousands since
1971. If we suppose that 1.5 persons
read each book, he presented Turkey
to 500 thousand persons through these
The writer has guide books related
to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Tunisia,
Marocco, Egypt, Israel, Britain, Canada
and New England. His books published
first by Frommer and then Lonely Planet
sold 3 millions all over the world.
His books written in English have been
translated to 12 languages.
Tom Brosnahan went to Turkey more
than one hundred times and he stopped
recently to be a tourism writer for
the publishing houses; he’s now
prepared to write his "memory" in
Turkey described by himself as "a
country having no bottom from the point
of history"; he visited last month
[June 2003] Turkey again in order to
update the web site TurkeyTravelPlanner.com through
which "he gained his liberty".
Vietnam or Peace Volunteer?
Brosnahan worked as English teacher
at Bornova Maarif College in
Izmir in 1967 as a Peace [Corps] Volunteer.
He decided to be a tourism writer
although he planned to be a professor
He tells that our country achieved
an "unbelievable" development in
the tourism and other fields in the
last 15 years.
He’s speaking Turkish making
the language more meaningful by using
the words hayhay (certainly), s¸ükürler
olsun (Thanks God), mas¸allah (wonderful), hanimefendi (lady), beyefendi (gentleman)
and bey (Mr.).
He emphasizes that "Turkey has
no bottom from the point of history!" and
explains as follows how he became a
"I had two alternatives; I would
go to Vietnam and kill people or be
a Peace [Corps] Volunteer.
The second alternative has been realised.
I started to work as an English teacher
at Maarif College in Bornova in 1967.
I was gaining as much as the teachers
During the holidays, I visited the
geographical, historical and cultural
attractions of Turkey by spending just
2-3 dollars or maximum 5 dollars; I
learnt the language,
I had friends and acquaintances. So,
I started to taste keyf (‘Turkish
pleasure’) by the conversations
accompanied with tea and raki even
if it was difficult for me. I took
pleasure of the Turkish
"One day, while going to the school..."
"One day, while going to the school I thought
that there is no good tourism guide book for
those who want to travel to Turkey on 5 dollars a
day... The books on the market have been prepared
for the rich tourists.
I offered a proposal to the Ministry
of National Education and the Ministry
of Tourism to write a book on this
matter. I sent the same proposal to
the Frommer publishing
house in New York. Their answer was hay
hay olur (sure, certainly); I
was very happy. So, The Turkey travel
book has been published in English
with the title of "Turkey
on 5 dollars a day" by
Formmer in New York in 1971.
The book had a big success. It became
more popular than the previous ones.
The edition number started from 7 thousands
and rose up to 8, 12, 15 thousands."
"My aim was to be a history professor"
"For me, the tourism authorship was a hobby
providing an income. My aim was to be a professor
of the Ottoman
history. I went again to the university in Boston.
I finished the courses teaching Ottoman language
and I made a study for 15 months in the Archives of
Prime Ministry in Ankara [should
for my doctorate thesis. I was very happy.
Then I was back to US to write my
doctorate thesis. Unfortunately, there
was no job for me
in the university where I’ve
been the unique student of the unique
professor; because at that time, the
Ottoman history was not as popular
as in those days.
Meanwhile, the publishing house proposed
me to write a travel book related to
the east region of Canada because
I know French. Thus, the tourism authorship
replaced my dreams of being a professor
Since that time, the Turkish expression ‘Tebdil-i
mekanda ferahlik vardir’ ("Changing
place makes one feel good")
is hung on the wall of my office
room at home. I travelled a lot,
I took photos, I composed the informations
that I got and I wrote books; the
tourism authorship made me happy."
"Tourism boom in Turkey"
"The years of 1978, 1979 have been very difficult
for Turkey. The publishing house was not willing
to edit an updated book related to Turkey. They believed
that tourism is finished in Turkey.
In 1980, Evren Pasha took
the power. At that time, I proposed
to the publishing house to update the
book of Turkey. Bur Frommer didn’t
accept and I applied to Lonely
Planet. They said: ‘Hay
hay, prepare it. We will publish.’
In 1985s, during the government of Turgut Özal and
when the Turkish tourism boomed, there
was only one updated tourism guide
book related to Turkey in US and it
was my book.
My advantages compared to the other
writers is that I knew culture,
history and language of Turkey.
My book published
by Lonely Planet has
been composed of 300 pages; then the
second edition in the second year had
400-500 pages; I was prepared for 900
pages but the publishing house gave
up to prepare a new edition because
of the higher costs and lower benefit.
Meanwhile, my guide book called "Istanbul" and
then "Turkey Travel Atlas" has
The website giving liberty to the writer
"As the publishing house grew more and more,
the growing bureaucracy gave rise to problems. So,
I decided to use the electronic area to write my
books starting from 1994.
Recently, my web site TurkeyTravelPlanner.com started
to serve. It’s a very simple
web site. Actually, it’s composed
of 500 pages. But the context grows
due to the links. Of course, the number
of pages will increase.
The purpose of the site is to find
answers to the qustions of tourists
who will visit Turkey. In other words,
to think as a tourist and to find answers
to their questions. So, I have 10 questions
on my web site. I provide answers to
the subjects related to the security, transportation, accomodation and cuisine by
asking first the question of ‘do
you want to travel to Turkey?’.
In May, 35 thousand persons
visited my site; 250 thousand
pages were read. The comments of
the visitors show that the site is
simple, easy to enter, to visit and
functional. The visitors are from
US and Europe.
me liberty as a writer. My website
has been awarded gold medal by Society
of America Travel Writers.
I must come to Turkey once two years
in order to update my books; I will
visit more frequently Turkey because
my website is active and widely read.
[On my June trip] I travelled from Side to Selçuk.
I updated my informations related especially
to marinas, ferry-boat
trips and yacht
charters; I studied the hotels
In 1967, while going to the school
one day, Turkey oriented my life; it
changed me. I had my honeymoon with
my wife in this country. And we named
our daughter Lydia which
is the name of an ancient culture on
Tom Brosnahan is also an enthusiast
of Orhan Veli Kanik so
much that he translated his poems into
English. Maybe, he’s travelling
on behalf of Orhan Veli too who wrote
the following lines:
"If I had sailed to the wind,
if I had travelled across the seas
And one day early in the morning, If
I had found myself
At a quiet and desert port.(...)
Oh my God! What a pleasure, what a
...but he never could go out of Istanbul....