The Turkish Touring and Automobile Institution (TURİNG or TTOK: Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu) was founded by Reşit Saffet Atabinen in 1923. The company was at first known as Türk Seyyahin Cemiyeti (Turkish Tourist Association) but later adopted the name Türk Turing Kulübü (Turkish Touring Club). In 1930, the institution was recognized as an organization that benefited the public, and thus it was given certain authorities and duties concerned with traffic and customs legislation. This is a national amateur institution that carries out activities within the fields of tourism and automobiles.

During a period when the economic benefits of tourism were not yet understood in Turkey TURİNG made a considerable effort to fill the gap. For many years TURİNG acted as a public enterprise that was devoted to advertising and promotion in the fields of culture and tourism. TURİNG published the first posters and guidebooks for tourists besides the first road maps of Turkey; in addition, it offered the first foreign language courses and held the first examinations for tourist guides. Under the auspices of TURİNG, the first tourism reviews were also written and published and tourism congresses and conferences were held. The organizational body conducted studies on how to rearrange the legal framework and programs in a manner that would best satisfy the needs of the tourism sector.

During the first few years, the institution carried out activities with two officers in a two-room office in the Adalet Hanı, located on Galata Voyvoda (Bankacılar) Caddesi. In spite of its limited staff and budget, as a member of Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT), TURİNG campaigned successfully to have the annual meeting of AIT held in Istanbul.

In the 1950s, when recovery and overseas expansion were beginning to occur both in the Turkish economy and throughout the world, TURİNG went in an apparent slowdown; the institution, with its aging staff and system, was unable to procure any new duties. The office moved to the second floor of Moralı Pasajı in Tepebaşı Square. It carried out its activities for five years in this location and later, it operated on the second floor of Nil Pasajı on Asmalımescit Sokağı for ten years. This space was the first property that the institution purchased.

It was during the general directorate of Çelik Gülersoy (1930-2003) that TURİNG became well-known. Çelik Gülersoy, who started to work for TURİNG in 1947. After serving for 42 years, the founding chairman of TURİNG, Reşit Saffet Atabinen, died in 1965 and Çelik Gürsoy took over the management.

During Çelik Gürsoy’s time as general directorate, the following activities were carried out: establishment of the first technical road assistance service; providing credit to tourists; production of colored publications and books in foreign languages; setting up of tourism information services. During this period, the service building in Şişli Square was purchased and thereby the office conditions there were improved. In the following years, the name of Çelik Gürsoy came to be identified with his efforts of introducing some historical locations in Istanbul into tourism.

Within the scope of the protocol that was signed in 1971 with the ministries of Customs and Finance, it was determined that at customs gates TURİNG would be in preparing the triptyque documents, an authorized pass —bonds in the form of an annual deposit— for vehicles entering Turkey. This job significantly increased the financial resources of the institution in the following years. The surplus resources of the institution were used for the restoration of some historical locations that had touristic potential.

In 1979, a protocol was signed between the institution and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for the construction, renovation and management of parks and mansions. Based on this protocol, TURİNG renovated and began to operate several new touristic locations.

During this period, TURİNG also undertook the renovation of some important streets in Sultanahmet, Edirnekapısı and Safranbolu. It pioneered in opening up these places to the public as hotels and tearooms. The institution introduced works which received national and international prizes and were appreciated in wide circles thanks to the high quality of its restoration projects.

When the customs procedure was changed and the obligatory triptyque document was removed in 1990, TURİNG was deprived of its main source of income. Restricted by this new financial situation, the institution tried to orient itself towards new financial conditions by liquidating some of its properties.

In 1994, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality did not renew the contract that had been signed regarding parks and mansions, and it demanded that the parks and mansions under the control of TURİNG be evacuated. Within the same year, the institution moved its central office from Şişli Square to its current location at Oto Sanayi Sitesi no. 1, in the 4th Levent neighborhood.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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