Turkey expects cruise tourism boom in 2022
Representatives of the Turkish cruise sector are expecting a boom in cruise tourism in 2022, with over 1 million tourists, after world renowned companies have re-added Turkish ports to their routes following the opening of Istanbul’s Galataport.
“The start of service in Galataport is a major development for Turkish tourism. Three big cruise ships may harbor in Karaköy port at the same time,” Burak Çalışkan, the local manager of MSC Cruises, told daily Milliyet.
Galataport is a cruise ship port and mixed-use property unit with 1,200 meters of city-center shoreline. The site, which cost $1.8 billion, was opened in April 2021, after a year’s postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Istanbul is one of the most important cruise destinations in the world. We are looking forward to seeing cruise liners in Istanbul,” Çalışkan said.
According to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), plans for 2022 have already been done and more than 500 cruise liners are expected to visit Turkey this year.
“The sector had a harsh blow in 2020 amid the pandemic. We expect a new era in 2022,” Ercan Abitağaoğlu, a TÜRSAB official, said.
Cruise tourism in the world started in 1831 with a cruise liner departing from Italy and heading to Turkey. Today, the total economy of cruise tourism is valued at around $60 billion.
Turkey had a record of 2.1 million tourists in 2011 with 1,615 cruise liners’ visits.
After the nosediving in the tourist numbers in 2020, a slight increase was seen in 2021. Last year, the number of cruise tourists visiting Turkey skyrocketed to some 25,000 from 2,000 after lockdowns and curfews were lifted.
“We are waiting for around 1.5 million cruise tourists in 2022 that will bring some $1 billion to our economy,” Abitağaoğlu noted.
“As Istanbul becomes a popular cruise destination again for international tourists, then the capacities of other ports in the Aegean provinces will increase,” Çalışkan added.
Özgü Alnıtemiz, the local director of Celestyal Cruises, also touched on the importance of Istanbul in the industry.
“Our cruise liners arrive in Kuşadası [a tourism hub in the Aegean province of Aydın] from Athens. From now on, they will be harboring at Galataport,” she said.
According to Abitağaoğlu, Galataport is a port with “the best location” among all other cruise ports.