Many giant cruise companies of the cruise industry that attended the Seatrade Cruise Global fair held in the U.S. have turned their courses to Turkey after the country experienced a decline in cruise tourism in the recent period. The cruise companies said Turkey was an indispensable country, that it was in their plans and that they would add the country to their routes for this and the upcoming seasons, according to a report in the Turkish Dünya daily.
Savaş Ercan, the manager of MSC Cruises Turkey, announced that they will add İzmir and Antalya to their travel routes.
While NCL Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it would visit Turkey's Kuşadası Port two times in the 2018 season and five times in 2019, Holland American Line included Turkey in its plans for 2020. Chamber of Shipping (DTO) İzmir Branch Chairman Yusuf Öztürk noted that other cruise firms would also add Turkey to their routes.
The Seatrade Cruise fair, the global meeting of the cruise industry, was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from March 5 to 8, 2018. During the fair, the Turkish booth was coordinated by the İzmir branch of the Istanbul & Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions (IMEAK), DTO and the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Öztürk said the fair gave hope about the 2018 season and beyond, continuing, "We have learned that MSC cruises would visit İzmir four times and Antalya three times in 2019. In addition, NCL Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the world giants, has announced that it would visit Kuşadası Port two times in 2018 and five times in 2019. During the fair, the Holland American Line chairman told me that they had plans to come to Turkey in 2020."
According to Öztürk, cruise line representatives who joined a conference on the first day of the fair expressed, "Turkey is an indispensable country. We are looking forward to going there." Underlining that this statement was quite promising for the future, Öztürk said they think other cruise tours would also come to Turkey.
Due to the new destinations in global cruise tourism and regional troubles in the eastern Mediterranean, the Asian and Australian markets have come to the fore, while the Mediterranean market has dramatically shrunk. The number of passengers coming to Turkish ports dropped to 306,000 in 2017 from 2,240,000 in 2013. Underlining that they continue to promote Turkey without getting down, Öztürk said, "Last year we signed the agreement to make Miami Port, the most popular cruise port in the world, and İzmir Port sisters. We evaluate this agreement for knowledge transfer and promotion. The incentives disclosed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for cruise tourism have also boosted our morale. We have to eliminate the infrastructural shortcomings of cruise ports, especially of İzmir Alsancak Port, as soon as possible. The cruise both yields money to cities and contributes greatly to the promotion of the country. As a result of our efforts, we believe that we will attract cruise ships back to Turkish ports from 2020 onward."
The market of traveling with luxury ships is continuously growing. About 300 luxury ships around the world carry about 23 million passengers a year. These cruise passengers spend nearly $42 billion a year. The biggest destinations in the sector are the port cities of the Mediterranean countries, with the Caribbean taking the lead. The rapid growth of China and Australia in recent years attracts attention. At present, there are 20 cruise ships being built in shipyards around the world. The number of cruise passengers is expected to rise to 27 million this year. The daily spending of a cruise passenger coming to Turkey starts from $70 and goes up to $300. However, the number of cruise passengers arriving in Turkey has dramatically declined over the past four years. A total of 2,240,000 passengers came to Turkish ports in 2013. This figure fell to 628,000 in 2016 and to 306,000 in 2017. Moreover, the number of cruise ships coming to Turkish ports plummeted to 590 in 2016 and to 311 in 2017 from 1,542 in 2013.