Professional chambers, NGOs raise voice against Kaş airport plans in southern Turkey

Professional chambers, NGOs raise voice against Kaş airport plans in southern Turkey

ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency
Professional chambers, NGOs raise voice against Kaş airport plans in southern Turkey

DHA photo

Some 21 occupational organizations and professional chambers under the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) held a press meeting in the southern province of Antalya to voice opposition to an airport construction project in a pristine part of Turkey’s southern tourism hub. 

Organized in support of various tourism federations and environmental protection NGOs in the idyllic Kaş district of Antalya, the meeting raised concerns about the location of the new airport, planned in the Çomucak forest 10 miles outside Kaş town center. 

Speaking on behalf of local organizations, Kadriye Hacımusaoğlu said they first heard about the plans on Feb. 25 when two experts from the Cultural Heritage Preservation Board, along with teams from the Transport Ministry, came to Kaş. 

Hacımusaoğlu said the project came back to attention again in 2014, when the coastline of the Demre district of Antalya was opened to eight firms for hotel constructions. She added that the airport was foreseen as the “Western Antalya project,” which would serve the Kumluca, Finike, Demre, and Kaş districts of Antalya and the Fethiye district of Muğla province. 

“These [hotel construction] firms have united under Demre Tourism Investors Federation [DETUYAB]. It is known that they sent their demand for the Western Antalya Airport to be constructed with the built-run-transfer model in early 2016, citing Demre hotels’ distance from [Antalya’s central] airport as a justification,” said Hacımusaoğlu. 

She said the construction of such an airport in Kaş aimed to transform the district from sustainable culture and nature tourism area to “sea, sand, sun-based” mass tourism. 

“The initiative to transform the region into a mass tourism [area] will cause agricultural areas to be decreased with inefficient tourism investments,” said Hacımusaoğlu, adding that the airport would also have a negative impact on the region’s archeological riches.     

Also speaking at the meeting, Antalya Professional Chambers Coordination Board Spokesman Abit Küçükarslan said there had still not been a satisfactory response to an application from Kaş NGOs requesting information about the project. 

Local NGOs had submitted a seven-page report to local state bodies in March opposing the airport, saying it would have irreversible consequences for the town, which currently attracts travelers for its untouched environment.

The report, which was drafted by organizations including the Kaş Tourism Association, the Kaş Kalkan Patara Hoteliers Association, the Kaş Underwater Association and the Kaş Environment Platform, said the planned airport would not only damage the region’s tourism, agriculture and environment, but it would also hit the economy of Kaş, as it would force the residents of its Ağullu, Belenli, Çukurbağ, Pınarbaşı and Yeniköy neighborhoods to migrate.