The Arab Tourism Organization (ATO) has begun work on a yacht marina in the Gulf of Saros, a tourist destination on the Aegean Sea in Turkey's northwestern Edirne province.
The project emerged following a meeting between ATO President Dr. Banadar Bin Fahad al Fuhaid and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who recommended that Fuhaid investigate tourism opportunities in Edirne.
Edirne Mayor Günay Özdemir stated that the Arab organization had identified locations for investment and reached a positive conclusion about Enez, a touristic town situated next to Lake Dalyan.
Enez is located 10 miles by sea from the Greek city of Alexandroupoli, which has its own airport, making the Turkish town an attractive location for investment in the tourist industry. The Arab group stated that the marina would be an ideal place to secure yachts in the winter months and to set off for other countries during the summer.
In a meeting with Mayor Özdemir, ATO President Fuhaid noted that 3.5 million Arab tourists came to Turkey in 2016, while Arab countries received 2 million tourists from Turkey.
"It is widely known that tourists from Turkey and the Arab world are some of the visitors who spend the most. We are witnessing a reciprocal rise in investments from Turkish and Arab investors. We see that the Arab world makes up a large part of investments in Turkey right now," said Fuhaid, adding that he expected Enez to become a popular destination for Arab tourists in the near future.
Mayor Özdemir stressed that Edirne province was rich in historic and natural attractions that would appeal to tourists. "Many people don't know that there's a coastline in Edirne. We are trying to introduce visitors to the shoreline and explain how important seaside tourism is."
Edirne Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Recep Zıpkınkurt, who also attended the meeting with Özdemir and Fuhaid, noted that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism declared Saros a 'Tourism Protection and Development Area' in 2006, and that the region was primed for investment.
"The reason Arabs want Enez as a yacht marina is that they already keep their yachts in the Mediterranean over the winter, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The costs are very high. The marina at Enez will be good for them in terms of price, and they will also prefer to invest there because of its proximity to Istanbul," said Zıpkınkurt.
Some fishermen have qualms about the investment, as one local Celil Toker expressed, "Once the Arabs build here, they won't want us fishermen anymore. We won't be able to come into the marina because the fishermen here aren't wealthy people." Conversely, fisherman Zafer Kılıçoğlu said that as long as fishermen were still allowed to use the marina then he saw no problem with the project.