New project to boost Turkish diving tourism
MUĞLA – DHA
A project, which has been prepared to bring underwater culture tourism to the historic island of Yassıada, has been delivered to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. The projects aims to make Yassıada ready for divers.
Underwater archaeologist and diving instructor Aşkın Cambazoğlu said once the project is approved, it would be realized in six months, adding that rich and high-quality tourists could be hosted 12 months of the year.
The project has been prepared by Cambazoğlu and Turkey’s first underwater archeologists Oğuz Alpözen and Yaşar Yıldız as a result of the work of nearly 20 years.
The executives of the project, Cambazoğlu and Yıldız said an exploratory study had been completed in Yassıada.
The island has been home to 12 shipwrecks since ancient times to 1994. Cambazoğlu said with the project, Bodrum would become one of the most notable places in the world for diving tourism and the project would also ease the protection of artifacts by restrictedly opening the island to diving tourism.
“Around the island are shipwrecks that sank 15-45 meters deep in the second, fourth and 16th centuries, as well as a Lebanese ship that sank in 1994 with its sheep. We have finished all the excavation work around the island. The artifacts removed from the wrecks are currently on display at the Bodrum Underwater Museum along with 2,000 amphorae,” he said.
“We can put some of the amphorae in the area that will be surrounded with fences. This project, which we have prepared to protect our underwater artifacts and share them with the world, will be the first of its kind in the world,” said the archaeologist.
“This is why it is very important to open Yassıada to diving tourism. In Italy, it costs 32 euros per minute to dive near a newly discovered wreck. While protecting our values, we will also be able to draw rich tourists who are interested in diving tourism to Bodrum throughout the year,” said Cambazoğlu.
Monitored for 24 hours
Cambazoğlu said with the project, which will cost $750,000, the underwater artifacts would be monitored for 24 hours with cages and cameras. In addition, the structures on the island would be renewed into a harbor, a hyperbaric chamber, a restaurant, cafes and a conference hall.
“People will be able to watch divers from above. We will also give photos and visuals of the dive for those who ask for a memoir,” he added.
“When the project is realized, over 400,000 tourists who will come in the first two years might bring at least $200 million income annually. This figure might be increased 10 times in 10 years,” said Cambazoğlu, adding that it would make a big dream would come true.
Yıldız, the former director of the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum, said the region might become “the Ephesus of underwater” with diving tourism.
“We prepared a project in 1989 and delivered it to the ministry. Every year, famous rich people and archaeologists had great difficulty in receiving diving permission. With this project, 12 shipwrecks that have sank in 1800 years will be exhibited together for the first time. It will make us very happy that a dream of 40 years will come true,” he said.
“While the underwater treasures of Anatolia are being introduced to the whole world by archaeologists and guides of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, at the same time, young archaeologists can carry out scientific studies. Students who will be taken to the island will be given lessons on our underwater history and cultural assets. Students and local people will be aware of cultural assets and protect them,” said Yıldız.