Mustafapaşa ranks first among the best tourism villages, having met nine sustainable development goals

Mustafapaşa Village, home of the Cappadocia University headquarters, has topped the list of the “Best Tourism Villages” in the world, determined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), by meeting the highest number of evaluation criteria. Mustafapaşa has ranked ahead of all its competitors by meeting nine of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Tourism Sector

The United Nations defined sustainable development in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Tourism is one of the sectors that plays a major role in development, both in Turkey and around the world. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, tourism was the fast-growing sector, and had reached 10 percent of the gross world product (GWP). However, the impacts of increased tourism activity on natural and cultural assets, as major contributors to tourism, and on the people whose livelihoods are based on these resources are generally described as negative.  Studies carried out to eliminate these negative effects tend to focus on two issues: the benefit of tourism to the economic and social lives of the local people, and minimizing the damage inflicted by tourism on natural and cultural assets.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and by extension, the Sustainable Development Goals, which may serve as references for states, the private sector and NGOs.

Sustainable Development Goals Met by Mustafapaşa

Through the “Best Tourism Villages” program, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has, since May 2021, aimed to identify tourism villages all over the world that adopt innovative approaches to rural area tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Candidate villages are evaluated based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals criteria.

Mustafapaşa Village has ranked ahead of all its competitors by meeting nine of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The list of targets that Mustafapaşa has met was announced on the UNWTO website.


The goal of increasing access to services, protecting the vulnerable and eradicating all forms of poverty 

The natural and cultural tourism resources and the tourism businesses that have developed around these resources ensures Mustafapaşa offers a regular source of income to the local people. Cappadocia University, headquartered in Mustafapaşa, prioritizes the neighborhood in its employment policy.


Ensuring access to general health services, safe vaccines and medication to all

Mustafapaşa is part of the national health network. The local health center in the village and the family physician serve both the villagers and university students. There is also a pharmacy in the village.


The goal of ensuring everyone can access quality and affordable education (including vocational and higher education), regardless of gender or income status.

Cappadocia University’s main campus is located in Mustafapaşa Village. Specializing in vocational education, the University meets the lifelong learning needs of its region with the courses it organizes in the fields of entrepreneurship, hot air ballooning, gastronomy and culinary arts, as well as tourist guidance and personal development. The university also provides scholarship opportunities to regional students.


The goal of eliminating all forms of discrimination against all women and girls

Women and girls are an important part of community life in Mustafapaşa. Cappadocia University is against all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Half of the university’s students and 52% of its staff are women, and there are women serving in senior positions.


The goal of providing everyone with clean drinking water and promoting water efficiency

The water resources of Mustafapaşa Village are at a level to meet the needs of the local people and the University. There is also a thermal hot water source in the village, and studies are continuing into the use of this resource for touristic purposes.


The goal of ensuring sustainable economic growth, a high level of productivity and technological development; promoting entrepreneurship and job opportunities, ensuring full and productive employment, and eliminating slavery and human trafficking

Rural tourism, agriculture and animal husbandry are the main economic resources in Mustafapaşa. The many natural and cultural assets of Mustafapaşa are drivers of tourism in the region, and are protected with due diligence.

The cultural assets of the village suggest a history that dates back to the 9th century. There are artifacts from the Medieval (Byzantine) and Ottoman periods in the village, among which Konstantin Eleni Church, St. Nicholas Monastery, St. Basileios Church and the Mehmet Şakir Pasha Madrasa are particularly noteworthy, as well as around 200 registered stone mansions with a protected status. The village is also home to the Cappadocia Art and History Museum. Thermal water investments, the Manastır Valley Open Air Museum, the Gomeda and Beyderesi Valley Arrangements, the Geo Park Project and the Signage Project are all being carried out with full adherence to conservation principles. The tourism resources of Mustafapaşa are at a level that ensures sustainable economic growth employment of the local population. With the establishment of the main campus of Cappadocia University in the village, businesses connected to the University have also developed. The university prioritizes the people of Mustafapaşa in employment, and develops the competencies of its personnel through on-the-job training.

The goal of urban planning and management is to provide safe housing for everyone, regardless of income level, to facilitate public transportation, and to offer green spaces.

Mustafapaşa Village is connected to Nevşehir City Center and other tourism centers in the region via an established road network. There are scheduled bus trips between Mustafapaşa and Ürgüp – the nearest center. The village is in the 4.5G GSM coverage area has a fiber-optic Internet infrastructure. The tourism facilities in the village make use of the advanced Internet infrastructure for online banking and reservation operations. Mustafapaşa has the necessary infrastructure to serve its visitors, with cafes, restaurants, shops and accommodation.

Contributing to the fight against global warming

The protection of natural and cultural assets in Mustafapaşa has been guaranteed with the Mustafapaşa Conservation-Oriented Zoning Plan, and a ban on unplanned construction. In addition, Cappadocia University operates programs on ecological sustainability; encourages its students to save water and energy, conducts studies into the prevention of food waste; takes a sensitive approach to waste sorting; and meets its electricity demand from solar power, all of which contribute to the reduction of its carbon footprint. The University is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and carries out studies into the development of sustainable tourism with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.


Cooperation between institutions, organizations and states to ensure the success of sustainable development

In line with the goal of ensuring the sustainability of Mustafapaşa’s economic development, the Cappadocia Area Presidency works in cooperation with Cappadocia University, the Cappadocia Tourism Infrastructure Service Union, the Ahiler Development Agency, the Mustafapaşa Mukhtar, and the Mustafapaşa Culture, Tourism and Promotion Association.