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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Ayşem Zorlu

Ayşem ZorluAyşem Zorlu is a London based Turkish Cypriot and the founder of 'Loacal' - a world travel and tourism service provider that offers tour guides and allows locals and a traveler to meet, exchange their culture and explore the hidden gems in the area that only a local knows about. It is currently a live website based in Cyprus and Turkey, but will soon be a smartphone app.

Ayşem studied at University and recieved a Master of Science (M.Sc.), Applied Statistics and Data Mining from the University of St. Andrews in London. She also attended the University of Dundee where she earned a bachelor of Science in Mathmatics. It is a public research university located in Dundee, Scotland.

She previously worked for a number of companies such as Aquila Insight, Haberdashers' Aske's Federation, Ekinci Accounting Office, Blue Horizons Training Centre before founding her own company called Loacal.

Her studies and her employment was focused on Information Services. Professionals in this sector provide information to the public or to specific companies, industries or groups of people. As well as providing the information, be it hard copy or electronic, information professionals also organise and store information.

The Information Services Industry encompasses a somewhat diverse population of companies. Still, there is a common theme in that these companies provide valuable and practical information to end-users. (Services are billed either on a subscription or per-use basis.) End-users range from small businesses to large corporations, with the mix favoring the latter.

Ayşem ZorluWhen asked about herself Zorlu said: "I am a traveller, data miner, statistician, (very recent) blog writer and an agile & happy entrepreneur, but most of all, the founder & owner of the travel start-up company, Loacal. I have been involved in all phases of developing, strategic planning, business execution and the creation of the platform."

As a reward of building a small team, performing all accounting, coordinating marketing and developing & improving relationships with many other start-ups, she recently won a grant on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program of the Cypriot government.

She puts self-belief and honest self-feedback to the base of her start-up and believes both are key for success. Being hard-working, open-minded and a research addict are top positive characteristics of hers.

Ayşem also presents at startup conferences around the world, such as in Turkey and London. She was also a mentor in Cyprus Inno's Bi-Communal Startup Mentorship Programme.

In December 2015, with the incentive of “I have worked enough, I should also travel a bit”, Zorlu had a long trip away from her hometown in Cyprus to South America to work voluntarily in the Rainforest.

Her first stop was Peru. She claims the time that she spent there was as if ‘a dream had come true’. There among trees that stretch up to the point where she could not see the monkeys living in them, the giant mosquitoes and other big strange insects. The leaves of these trees were longer than a human, and of course many tarantula buddies.

Ayşem ZorluShe had emerged herself in a culture that was completely different than her own and lived among them - even visiting a local’s house where she learned to cook a local Peruvian dish.

Then, she moved on to Panama, where she says she was lucky enough to meet with a local at a live jazz concert, to trying surfing together with a couple of local surfers, and explored the South American way of living with the locals.

There, she also had the opportunity to meet with an indigenous tribe of indians and experience the life of these locals. That was the moment when she realised the need for a platform - a platform which could act as a bridge between travellers and local peoples, activities and tours where they could exchange their culture and could explore the hidden gems that only the locals know about.

So she created this platform where you are able to skip the routine and are one click away from experiencing the Loacal way of living - The smart way of travelling : Experience the locale with Loacal!

Loacal is a travel-oriented marketplace of local experiences, a bridge between travellers, local people and activities & tours. Currently, a live website selling experiences in Cyprus, Turkey and the UK and soon to be a Smartphone app.

Depending on the specific interest, spoken languages, activities a traveller and a host like doing, a traveller through the website can reach the locals in order to experience the local way of living.

Ayşem ZorluAyşem Zorlu is a young entrepreneur who has adopted the slogan “Skip the Routine" has built her life on the principle of passing everything that's ordinary. It all began when she went to South America to volunteer in the rainforest. There she had the opportunity to meet the natives, observe their culture and get to know them closely.

During her time in South America and in Central America she noticed the different effect of the activities she experienced with a local person and the time saved in recognizing the regions and activities to be visited.

By observing the lack of access to such activities in her own country and even around the world she asked herself a question:

"Why is there no digital platform where we can reach out for such experiences?" So it was then that she decided to create Loacal in an effort to bring the idea to life."

"First of all, I set up the website with the aim of creating awareness around the Mediterranean in my hometown of Cyprus, and knew if I could succeed in transforming the concept of travel around the world to its more original state. I am a person who loves to travel (see) and tries to make every moment active by creating opportunities to see as much as I can."

"Whether a traveler visiting Cyprus can share a moment with ordinary people via my website or share a moment, take photographs, hike, taste local delicacies and similar hobbies when they come to Cyprus and meet with a common platform. The excitement of the idea of doing activities with the contribution of locals."

Ayşem Zorlu"And of course, my determination to work and the fact that my work was actually a part of me made me realize my idea. Before I put together Loacal, and even now, as a result of my research while my website is active, I see that similar ideas have been realized."

"I try to build my own audience by seeing the shortcomings of these sites and adapting them to small communities such as the Cyprus and other Mediterranean destinations."

"During my effort to develop the site, Airbnb, one of the largest companies in the world, was opened to a similar audience and has motivated me about the high potential of my initiative. For the first time in Cyprus, such a website has been created."

"I am building my own audience by seeing the shortcomings of these sites and adapting them to smaller communities in the Mediterranean area."

"We currently offer close to 150 experiences in Cyprus. These include daily tours of getting to know Cyprus with local people in line with the purpose of the idea, and diving courses in the famous wrecks of Cyprus."

"After realizing my initiative, I realized that our island is truly a paradise. There are many activities, activities and experiences that can be experienced in Cyprus with its long summer, winter and winter holidays, natural beauties and a relatively educated community."

"Although some of these are over one hundred, we have many values that we have forgotten and are not aware of. Loacal is an initiative that can lead to new tourism sectors with sustainable and even increased awareness."

Ayşem Zorlu"Our target audience, includes tourists coming to Cyprus (north and south) or planning to come. In addition, we expect the site to be popular with students studying in Cyprus and with foreigners who have settled in Cyprus and want to get to know more about it. "

"And we also expect that in the long run, the Cypriots will get attention as a result of price appropriateness, the multiplicity of experiences offered, and the feedback from presentation of comments from people who have used the experience."

"Cyprus is a small island so in order to find enough material to develop Loacal and increase its potential my target I set as zone countries in the Mediterranean, Cyprus and more than 300 active total in Turkey, more than another 200 pending experience offering loacal development potential. At the moment, my research from the beginning of the initiative says that I see more positives than not."

"The fact that Cyprus is not restricted is a major factor. Moreover, as I mentioned before, we can say that the development doors are open thanks to the fact that Cyprus contains many hidden experiences and activities."

"In a study, I read that tourists who come to Cyprus and take package tours are less likely to be satisfied. It was stated that the likelihood of satisfaction of participants in an organized event in Cyprus was higher than the average Cypriot package tour visitors."

Ayşem ZorluThe initiative is expected to contribute to tourism by targeting people who make their own arrangements and participate in non-holiday activities here.

In addition, the increase in sales of services for professional locals (diving school, handicraft course, etc.) and additional work for amateur locals will contribute to the economy and tourism of the country as well as providing economic opportunities to the people who try to serve in tourism.

Check out her services, visit the website, and make sure to email info@loacal.com to find out what Loacal can offer to enhance your special holiday.


She has two offices - one in Cyprus and another in the UK.

Cyprus Office: Öğretmenler Cad. Hacı Ali Sitesi 1, B/3, North Nicosia, Cyprus

UK Office: 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ, United Kingdom

Social Media:

Ayşem's Facebook
Loacal Facebook


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