US giants eye Istanbul's Yenikapı for cruise investments

BETÜL ALAKENT
ISTANBUL
Published 04.11.2018 22:27

U.S. cruise giants, Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean, have turned their routes to Istanbul's Yenikapı, a key public and freight transport point in the city.

The two companies, currently waiting for the port tender, are planning to invest in the region.

Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy had earlier said that a number of cruise companies were interested in building a new cruise port in Istanbul, under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, making the city a hub point.

The two U.S. cruise companies want to turn Istanbul into a Mediterranean hub and are now waiting for the tender bidding on the Yenikapı cruise port to open.

Erkunt Öner, Chairman of Tura Tourism, which serves as the Turkish sales agent of Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean, said that lack of ports is one of the main problems facing the sector.

"The Galataport project, which will be completed in 2020, is not entirely sufficient for giant vessels. Therefore, a cruise port in Yenikapı needs to be built," Öner said.

"The Transportation Ministry said they were working on this project. If the ministry opens a tender for Yenikapı, Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean are planning to bid," he added.

General Manager of Royal Caribbean Turkey Alper Taşkıranlar said that despite the fluctuations in the exchange rate this year, the mobility in the cruise sector continues. He said that the number of Turkish tourists preferring cruise tourism rose by 20 percent this year. "We believe that this vitality will continue in 2019 as well," he added.

Taşkıranlar said that Istanbul has the potential to become the main departure hub in the Mediterranean, adding that the increasing number of Turkish citizens going on cruise holidays may positively affect the idea of turning Istanbul into a hub.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry previously announced that they had prepared a new cruise port project in Yenikapı in May. Accordingly, Yenikapı Marina is expected to start operations within 355 days, after receiving necessary permits. The port will allow a total of eight cruise ships, including three large vessels, to dock. It would accommodate 2.7 million cruise passengers a year.

Carnival Group is the largest cruise ship company in the world, incorporating 10 companies and some 104 vessels. The company serves more than 11.5 million passengers across seven continents every year.

Royal Group, on the other hand, is the second-largest company in the cruise sector. It operates through six companies and 61 vessels. The company serves more than 6 million passengers annually.

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