Investors, local government divided on new Marmaris construction
MARMARİS – Anatolia News Agency | 1/17/2011 12:00:00 AM | LEVENT KİŞİ
Tourism investors advocate controlled construction in selected bays but environmentalists and local governmental official have completely opposed the idea
Some 200 bays between Marmaris and Datça in southwestern Turkey should be open to tourism, according to representatives of the tourism sector in the Aegean Region.
The area, called “blue paradises” by local people, should be allocated for tourism construction in a controlled way, the representatives said.
Last year, the five-star Munamar Hotel was bought by Qatar Emir Sheikh Nasser Ahmed Ali al-Thani and an area of 120,000 square meters, with a permit to build a resort, was bought by Russian businessman Makhach Omarov. After these purchases, several other investors were interested in the South Aegean Region and the issue of opening the beautiful bays, where blue and green meet each other, began to be discussed.
Because foreign investors’ interest has grown in Marmaris recently, South Aegean Tourism Hoteliers and Managers Association, or GETOB, President İlhan Açıkgöz suggested that certain parts of Marmaris be opened to tourism.
Açıkgöz, who noted that it was necessary to open some appropriate bays in Datça Peninsula to tourism while protecting the environment, said: “We should not be the poor guardians of rich lands. Apart from the destinations we are already in competition with, there is a huge increase in the capacity of tourism beds in North Africa and Egypt. These are bed supplies managed by famous international chains. In order to compete with these places, our region should be able to produce new facilities. The number of international chain hotels here should be increased.”
In order to be distinguished among the destinations they compete with, Açıkgöz said it was necessary to promote boutique locations rather than mass tourism.
Noting that most of the hotels in Marmaris are located in the city center, Açıkgöz said: “The concepts of the city and the resort have been mixed. This situation has both advantages and disadvantages. As soon as you leave your hotel, you are in the middle of the city. But on the other hand, the negative aspect is that there are too many businesses and too many shops around the hotels. There are stores that sell counterfeit goods. The supply of restaurant seats is almost three to four times more than the bed capacity. Another major problem of Marmaris is that three or four brothers own three or four small hotels. These small hotels should be united to produce different services and products. Because in such a competitive environment, some products should be renewed and some of them should be totally changed.”
Despite the odds, people are very hopeful for the 2011 tourism season, Açıkgöz said.
[HH] No hurry
Before making a decision about building tourism resorts on the bays, Datça Mayor Şener Tokcan warned, saying, “Local and civil initiatives should have an effective say during this process and the opinions of people should be taken into account.”
Tokcan said they objected to building five-star hotels that resemble concrete jungles on the bays.
“Some of the bays are so beautiful that they should not be spoiled by these constructions. But on the bays that are convenient for tourism, some facilities that are appropriate for daily use can be built. The general public should be able to make use of these facilities that should also be environmentally friendly and which should not spoil the beautiful appearance of the bay,” he said.
“Before making any decision about the issue of allowing construction in the bays, we should consider it very carefully. If we make a mistake once, as was the case in the Spanish example, there will be no turning back. We should not hurry. These bays have belonged to us for many years; they will continue to be so in the future. There is no need to rush,” Tokcan said.
Marmaris Tourism and Environment Volunteers Group Director Filiz Ersan said they totally objected to the idea of opening the bays to tourism, adding that they were “paradises on earth.”
“We accept that tourism contributed a lot to the development of our region so far but we cannot sacrifice our uniquely beautiful bays in order to earn a little more money,” she said. “They mention the balance between protection and use. Who would check this balance? Mineral exploration licenses were issued covering an area of more than half of the district’s total area and the enlargement of Marmaris Port was decided. Such events prove that our concerns are justified, especially for the future of the bays.”
She said that if any decision is made that would put the bays in danger, they would react accordingly as environmentalists.