More investment planned in growing cruise tourism

More investment planned in growing cruise tourism

İZMİR - Anatolia News Agency
More investment planned in growing cruise tourism

A total of 37 cruise ships with 58,329 tourists on board visited Turkish ports in the first quarter of this year. AA photo

Cruise tourism in Turkey has shown remarkable growth this year according to new figures, amid promises by Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım to implement more investments to boost the sector.

The number of passengers that came to Turkey with cruise ships rose by an impressive 108 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, while the number of cruise ships visiting Turkey showed a 76.1 percent increase, according to official data. A total of 37 cruise ships with 58,329 tourists on board visited Turkey in the first quarter.

The country is eager to raise its share of the global cruise industry by developing its ports. Yıldırım said that while more than 2 million passengers came to Turkey’s ports with 685 cruise ships last year – a four-fold increase over a decade earlier – the numbers were still insufficient.

Renovations needed

The ports of Kuşadası, Istanbul, Marmaris, Fethiye, İzmir, Alanya, Antalya, Dikili, Samsun, Çanakkale and Trabzon are open to cruise tourism, he said, adding that they would renovate and enlarge six current ports in Trabzon, Kuşadası, Samsun, İzmir, Antalya and Mersin to accommodate cruise ships. He noted that they would also build a cruise port that would have the capacity to host 2 million passengers a year in İzmir, which is one of the fastest growing cruise ports in the world.

MSC Cruises Turkey General Manager Necla Tuncel said last week that Turkey possessed a great potential for cruise tourism thanks to its regional advantages but that its ports were failing to accommodate a rising number of ships because they were not designed for cruise ships. “The ports are insufficient as they weren’t built with cruise tourism in mind. Vessels using Greek and Croatian ports might stop by Turkey as well, but in order to be able to take a share from this tourism, the ports need an urgent overhaul,” she said.

Turkey takes the fourth biggest share of the world cruise tourism market, which is valued at $8 billion, said Ekrem Demirtaş, head of the İzmir Chamber of Commerce, adding that the top three countries were Spain, Italy and Greece. Cruise tourism has grown above the world average in Turkey in recent years. The number of tourists visiting Turkey with cruise ships has increased every year since 2004, except for 2009 due to the global economic crisis.