The Istanbul Salıpazarı Port Area project aims to make Istanbul one of the world's largest centers for cruise tourism and enable the city to challenge Barcelona, the city that generates the highest cruise tourism revenue in the world, by attracting $30 million annually. The construction of the port, which will allow Istanbul to harbor the world's biggest cruise ships, is slated to start in 2016 and be completed in the last quarter of 2018. The port will be the first-of-its-kind in the world, in that passengers getting off ships will reach the cruise terminal by passing through mechanical bellows, which will be installed in an undersea tunnel along the quay. Passengers will go through passport checks and conduct customs transactions in that tunnel. The new terminal will be more than two times larger than the previous one and will have high-standard waiting spots, ticketing counters and duty-free shops. The port is expected to attract the world's largest cruise ships such as the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, both which can host up to 6,200 passengers. With the project, the 1.2-kilometer coastline spanning from Karaköy to Tophane will be left for public use. Currently, the number of tourists visiting Turkey via cruises is around 2 million annually and the project is expected to upgrade Turkey's position in the world's cruise tourism sector from 10th to third. Doğuş Holding placed the highest bid of $702 million for the privatization of the Salıpazarı Port on May 16, 2013, and won the rights to operate the port area for 30 years.
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