Data compiled from the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry reveal that Turkey has taken significant, eye-catching steps in maritime transport, a strategic sector for global trade. One of the important initiatives was the revival of maritime transport with the removal of excise duty, a special consumption tax, for fuel used in vessels in 2004. Up until now, TL 7.2 billion in excise duty has been granted to the maritime transport sector as part of its removal. The freight handled in maritime transport surged 104% in 2018 compared to 2003. The number of passengers served in vessels also soared 40% in the same period while the number of vehicles carried by maritime transport recorded an astronomical rise of 112%.
Therefore, the first step taken in 2005 has revived the sector to a great extent, paving the way to expand the share of maritime transport.
Freight handled in Turkish ports also rose by 142 percent last year, compared to 2003 while the freight handled in containers skyrocketed by 335 percent.
The improvement of bilateral and multilateral relations with countries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea led to an increase in the number of vehicles carried via international Ro-Ro lines. Last year, the number of these vehicles rose by 165 percent compared to the figures recorded 15 years ago.
Expanding capacity of Turkish fleet
The Turkish fleet has not been exempt from growth in the said period. The fleet owned by Turks ranked 19th in global listings with deadweight of 8.8 million in 2003. In last year's listing, the Turkish fleet claimed the 15th spot with a capacity of 28.6 million tons of deadweight.
The growth in the maritime operations has also given momentum to efforts to capitalize on cruiser tourism. İzmir was repetitively awarded the best European cruise destination in 2001, 2012 and 2013. However, developments in the region have reduced the number of cruise tourists coming to Turkey to 214,000 last year. Yet, this year's figures have begun to signal crucial improvements.
Turkish-flagged vessels started to be listed in the white list as part of the Paris memorandum of understanding in 2008.
Turkey has also started to implement the project of Maritime Culture Promotion and Education Centers to encourage the public to engage in amateur maritime activities to instill a maritime culture in the country.
The country's shipbuilding sector has the capabilities to construct world-class vessels and increased exports to a significant extent, becoming the third largest receiver of yacht orders. Thanks to projects and incentives provided for the sector, the number of shipyards rose to 78 last year from 37 in 2003. In the number of ship orders, Turkey ranked fifth in the global shipbuilding industry.
Three ports on three seas
Turkey aims to reach $500 billion in exports by 2023, and one of the requirements to accomplish that goal is to realize mega port projects. Currently, the country is building three ports in three big seas, including Çandarlı Port in İzmir on the Aegean Sea, Filyos Port in Zonguldak in the Black Sea and the Taşucu Container Port in Mersin on the Mediterranean Sea.
The country also aims to become a regional logistics hub by setting up 16 large-scale logistic centers across the country.
In the upcoming period, the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry will continue to support efforts to establish modern manufacturing facilities for high value-added, qualified and custom-made vessels, cruise boats and yachts. To increase indigenous production, shipbuilding sub-industries will be encouraged. The capacity for marinas will be expanded with public-private partnership (PPP) projects.
The expansion of the maritime commercial fleet by 2023 to increase Turkey's share of commercial transportation by sea will be facilitated. Turkey has been carrying out all these projects to become a leading maritime nation in every field of maritime operations. Today, the country will celebrate Maritime and Cabotage day with various events.
Cabotage Law was adopted on April 19, 1926, by the Parliament and took effect on July 1, 1926. The law was regarded as a victory for the Turkish Independence War on the seas as it ended foreign dominance in trade across Turkish seas.
Cabotage is a word of French origin, coming from "caboter," meaning to travel by the coast. Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country. It originally applied to shipping along coastal routes, port to port, but now applies to aviation, railways and road transport.