New ministry plan to open coasts of well-preserved Datça peninsula to mass tourism
Datça is also known through Can Yücel, one of Turkey’s most acclaimed poets. Corbis PhotoThe Datça peninsula separating the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas is known as one of Turkey’s best-preserved coasts, having remained a haven relatively sheltered from the state’s aggressive drive to develop mass tourism.
But a recent plan drafted by the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry to boost mass tourism in along Datça’s coast may threaten the conservation of the peninsula’s mostly untouched nature, which has long constituted the locality’s specificity, journalist Çiğdem Toker has reported in daily Cumhuriyet.
A revised landscape plan that has been submitted to the provincial administration by the ministry will ease legal regulations to allow construction in the most important coves of the peninsula.
Associations argue that if the plan is implemented, mass tourism will also increase to the detriment of the local economy, as hotels or other touristic facilities will be able to “privatize” beaches.
In the plan, coves where there are currently only boutique hotels, pensions and small holiday villages, such as in Mesudiye, Palamutbükü or even the center of Datça, will be zoned for touristic facilities. According to Cumhuriyet’s report, the wording will allow the sale of large parcels to construct big hotels, which will change the entire economy of the locality.
Marina by ancient city
Another element in the plan is a marina project in Bağlarözü, a cove very close to the ancient Greek city of Knidos, despite being located within a first-degree archaeological site that proscribes any construction for touristic purposes. Separating the Mediterranean and Aegean at the extreme point of the peninsula, the ancient port praised by Aristotle as one of the cities with the best practice of democracy is also home to one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the country.
But locals warn that a nearby marina might not only result in more construction in its environs, but also contaminate the coast.
The plan will also open the way to construction in the Kargı cove, home to a reed field and a third-degree archaeological site.
Locals also criticized the promotion of an “agricultural tourism,” stressing that such practices could cause water shortages.
Cumhuriyet also reported that several associations and NGOs, including the Chambers of Architects of Datça, have collected over 400 signatures to annul the new plan, which they say has been prepared surreptitiously.
With its stone houses and mills, Datça is also known through Can Yücel, one of Turkey’s most acclaimed poets. Yücel, who moved there late in his life and lived there until his death in 1999, famously declared in his poem “Testament”: “Bury me, my dear, in Datça. Near that view by the sea.”