Phil Buckley-The Way We Were

Phil Buckley Walking to Aperlai, March 2008 Kaş, Turkey

Phil Buckley Walking to Aperlai, March 2008

(NOTE: For an updated anniversary commentary see what Phil has to say in this article titled:Phil Buckley-20 Years After)

When Phil Buckley first came to Turkey nearly 20 years ago, he “liked it so much he never went back to finish his Ph.D.” Phil was born in Manchester UK in 1966. At age 15 he had his first taste of the travel profession working in a UK agency during long school vacations.

Before coming to Turkey Phil worked in eight European Countries as a tour leader whist pursuing a first degree in Art History and European Literature. After graduating he lived and worked in tourism in Austria, Italy and France. Then he started a Ph. D. with the intention of teaching at University.

During the early 1990’s there weren’t many opening in teaching the arts at college level so he took year out of his post-grad course and decided to try a different and relative sector in tourism, namely Adventure Travel. The company that employed him offered him a job in Turkey, a place of which he knew very little. In his second year he started leading  5 day treks the highlands above Kaş from which culminated with an ascent of a 2900 m summit. Phil first came to know Kaş while enjoying some R&R after these treks and it quickly became his favourite place in Turkey. He enjoyed Turkey so much he never went back to academia but chose instead to stay.

Phil knew Tevfik from the legendary Red Point Bar and Ufuk as one of the leading lights of the new adventure travel scene. Their interests combined and they decided to start an agency specialising in adventure and activity. At that time no other companies in the Med were adventure-orientated and there were only a handful in the whole country. Phil had EU market connections, Ufuk had the idea for sea kayaking in Kekova, and Tevfik’s interest was in scuba diving.

In the early years they offered trekking, started the dive boat and school, and created cultural excursions for niche markets. Erdem, now the owner of Hideaway Cafe, was one of their first tour guides. They also started sea kayaking; another first in the region. And they started to foster relations with foreign adventure operators.

The company were the first to offer multi-activity holidays and they soon pioneered family adventure holidays. BT was the first company to do Mountain Biking, and Canyoning in the region.

In 2001 they did their first web site. 2005 was the first year in which BT transported more than 2,000 people from abroad on adventure holidays and it has continued increasing since then.

When asked about the competition which seems to be everywhere in Kaş these days, Phil answers that “BT’s success has spawned many competitors which has given Kaş a world-wide reputation as an adventure hub.”

That being said, Phil believes that BT is unique because it has the highest safety standards and they are always seeking new markets and new activities in the adventure travel field. BT also does their own in-house training for sea kayaking, canyoning and general tour leading. They encourage staff longevity and believe their “continued success is due to a long standing cadre of hard working, committed individuals. We think that BT is very much about the people who work with us and we have a team of which we’re proud.”

There were no computers nor Internet access to them at the time nor did they have a proper office so they started writing tour descriptions on a typewriter in Tevfik’s dining room. Their first office was just one room in the building that they still inhabit. Technology changed the way they did almost everything in the office from paper schedules on a bulletin board and a hand written customer transfer book to using Google Docs for all scheduling and keeping track of transfers and their other interests. It has been a challenge to invent all the systems to manage all their transfers and tours.
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