World’s top cruise operators returning to Turkey: Chamber
The world’s biggest cruise companies are set to return to Turkey, the board chairman of the İzmir branch of the Istanbul, Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions (İMEAK) Chamber of Marine Trade, Yusuf Öztürk, said in a statement on March 12.
“We met with executives from large cruise operators at the Seatrade Cruise Global Fair, held in Fort Lauderdale-Florida between March 5 and March 8. We had fruitful and promising discussions,” Yusuf Öztürk stated.
“The strong interest in Turkey seen at the fair is yet another sign that our tourism industry has put the worst behind it,” Öztürk said, adding that prospects are bright for the cruise sector in the coming period.
“Executives from cruise companies told us that Turkey is an important country and they plan to return to Turkey,” he said.
Cruise ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Line will dock twice at the port in the town of Kuşadası in the Aegean province of Aydın in the 2018 season and the company will organize five trips to the same town in 2019, according to Öztürk.
MSC, another major player in the industry, has added İzmir and Antalya to its plans for 2019.
“The president of the Holland America Line said they had plans for Turkey for 2020,” Öztürk also said.
The deputy board chairman of the chamber and MSC Turkey coordinator, Savaş Ercan, said the cruise industry will see a rebound in activity and “return to the good old days in 2020.”
Sharp decline in cruiser visits last year
Hopes are rising after a tough few years in the sector, amid a general downward trend in Turkey’s tourism industry.
The number of cruise ships visiting Turkey’s ports was 307 last year, down from 538 in 2016, marking a 43-percent decline, according to data from the Directorate General of Merchant Marine.
That came on top of the 50-percent annual decline recorded in 2016.
In 2015, a total of 1,296 cruise ships visited Turkey versus 1,096 visits in the previous year.
According to the marine authority, no cruise ships docked at the country’s ports in the first two months of 2018.