Atatürk Culture Center project to become ‘Turkey’s source of pride’
Beril Aktaş - ISTANBUL
The government is preparing a “huge project” that will be appreciated by the entire public for the Atatürk Culture Center (AKM) in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Aug. 24.
“We will be proud of this project. As details become clear, we will share them with the public. In terms of the functionality and architectural value of the building, I can definitely say that the AKM will be one of the huge projects that Turkey will be proud of in the international arena. We are still working on it,” said Kurtulmuş at a meeting with culture and arts journalists at the Dolmabahçe Prime Ministry Office.
“In my opinion, it is not right to give too many details about timescale at this stage. The process has not started yet because the details of the project have not become clear. We will have a certain calendar in the tender process. We will finish the project as soon as possible,” he added.
Asked who would be given responsibility for undertaking the AKM project, Kurtulmuş said the government is “waiting for the process to become clearer.”
“What is important is not who undertakes the project but how correct the project is. When we get the results, we will share them. Unfortunately in some projects we focus on political polarization rather the project itself. We aim to not bring the AKM to such a situation. It will be a cultural project, and one of Turkey’s cultural heritages that will be transferred to future generations,” he added.
‘15 million tourists in six months’
Commenting on Turkey’s struggling tourism sector, Kurtulmuş claimed it had gone through “hard times in 2016 because of hatred against Islam, xenophobia, political developments, racism and excessive nationalist movements in Europe.”
“The tourism sector was at its highest level in 2014. But the problems we had, especially the crash of the Russian plane and the problems that came after it, caused very big problems for Turkey in 2016,” he said.
“Turkey has great potential, from health tourism to faith tourism, from mountain tourism to winter tourism. By using the power of the sector, we need to diversify the market,” Kurtulmuş added, stating that there has been a “revival” in the sector this year.
“We exceeded 15 million tourists in the first six months of the year. The revenue of tourism sector was over 9 billion Turkish Liras. Six million tourists arrived in Istanbul in the same period. There is a reality that more than half a million tourists visited Istanbul in the first six months of the year. People see that there is no problem in Turkey and it is just as safe as European cities,” he said.
The minister also noted that at the beginning of November the government would organize the 3rd Tourism Forum, which was last held back in November 2002.