İzmir preparing to welcome first cruise ship in years

İzmir preparing to welcome first cruise ship in years

İzmir preparing to welcome first cruise ship in years

İzmir, Turkey’s third-largest city and a major holiday destination on the country’s Aegean coast, is preparing to welcome its first cruise ship after years of hiatus.

Work coordinated jointly by the İzmir Governor’s Office, the metropolitan municipality and the İzmir Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism is underway at the city’s Alsancak port, where this year’s first cruise ship will dock on April 14.

The revamping of the Alsancak Port is part of the effort to lure more international tourists into the city.

Local authorities expect around 34 cruise ships to visit İzmir this year, bringing thousands of holidaymakers.

In 2021, nearly 640,00 foreign tourists visited the city, up nearly 135 percent compared to 2020, and 6,500 of those visitors arrived by sea last year, according to the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the international travel and tourism industry, İzmir hosted more than 1.2 million foreign holidaymakers.

Data from the İzmir Chamber of Commerce show that in 2003 only five cruise ships visited İzmir, bringing around 3,300 travelers. However, the number of cruise ship arrivals increased steadily in the following years, rising to as many as 286 vessels and some 553,000 visitors. In 2017, some 20 cruise ships docked at İzmir’s ports.

Between 2002 and 2017, the city welcomed more than 1,700 cruise ships, which brought 3.8 million visitors.

Last year, 78 cruise ships visited Turkey’s ports, marking an increase of 1,460 percent, while the number of cruise passengers leaped by nearly 2,400 percent to around 45,4000, according to the Transport Ministry’s General Directorate of Maritime Affairs.

The busiest port in terms of cruise ship traffic was the Marmaris Port, which hosted 31 liners, followed by the Kuşadası port, with 27 ships. The newly opened Galataport Istanbul Terminal in Istanbul ranked third, with nine cruise ships.