Turkey far from realizing potential in yacht sector

Turkey far from realizing potential in yacht sector

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey far from realizing potential in yacht sector

According to Serdar Çıtak of Ataköy Marina in Istanbul, both public and private sector should invest more in the marina business. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

More marina ports and berthing spaces must be built to develop the marina sector in Turkey and utilize the comparative advantage of the country’s coastlines, Serdar Çıtak, the general director of Ataköy Marina, has said.

The added value provided by the marina sector is substantially higher than in other branches of the tourism sector, he also said.

“The income provided by sea-going tourists is much greater than what normal tourists [bring in],” Çıtak said, adding that the marina sector constitutes a special branch of the tourism industry, representing a certain income group.

The marina sector has been established for some 50 to 60 years in the Mediterranean basin, which currently contains around 700,000 to 800,000 berthing spaces, he said. The marina sector in Turkey, however, kicked off during the 1980s and only started to develop after the 1990s, Çıtak said.

The Ataköy Marina is the first such establishment in Turkey to be granted the Five Gold Anchors Award by the Yacht Harbor Association, or THYA, which operates under the British Marine Federation.

Sea and yacht tourism in the sense understood in the rest of the world developed only after the 1990s with the construction of specific, high-quality ports in Turkey, Çıtak said.

“Turkey has only about 5 percent of the berthing capacity in the Mediterranean,” Çıtak said, adding that this was because the sector had begun to develop in Turkey only in recent years.

The number of marina ports in Turkey had doubled during the past decade, despite the lag in the development of the sector, he added. “If we continue at this rate, we will be taking a greater share of the pie,” Çıtak said.

“Each year new marinas enter the circuit. There are currently 35 marinas in Turkey and a berthing space capacity of some 17,000 to 18,000,” Çıtak said. Of these, 11 ports have the Five Gold Anchors, he noted, adding that Ataköy Marina itself owned around 600 berthing spaces.

Turkey enjoys a much greater comparative advantage in terms of its beaches, even though it has not yet realized its potential, he said.

The country’s marina infrastructure needs to be developed so as to provide berthing for longer periods of time, while Istanbul is too major a city to be condemned to merely a handful of ports, Çıtak said, adding that more marina ports have to be built to increase competition. Both the public and the private sectors must conduct infrastructure work for more marina ports to be built, he said.

“The demand for mega-yachts ought to be taken into consideration, and marinas suitable for them must be built [to realize] this potential,” he said. The demand for mega-yachts, which measure longer than 24 meters, has greatly increased in recent years throughout the world, Çıtak said, adding that a young and well-equipped labor force is needed in Turkey for the marina sector.

Some 30 new marinas are being planned for construction between 2010 and 2023, in addition to the 35 existing marinas certified by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, according to figures provided by the Tourism Investors Association, or the TYD. Total berthing capacity will also increase to 30,000 from its current 17,000 once the investment program is completed.