With the cruise port planned to be built in Istanbul's coastal neighborhood Yenikapı, Turkey expects to increase its share of global cruise tourism, which has an annual turnover of $35 billion, to approximately $1.5 billion. So, Istanbul will be one of the major cruise centers in the Mediterranean region.
According to the information compiled from the Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Ministry's Directorate General of Merchant Marine and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the number of individuals who preferred cruise tourism across the world was 25.8 million in 2017, and this figure is expected to rise to 27.2 million by the end of 2018.
Last year, a total of 35.4 percent of tourists who traveled with "floating five-star hotels" preferred the Caribbean region, 15.8 percent the Mediterranean, including Turkey, and 11.3 percent European countries without shores on the Mediterranean. The number of cruise ships berthed at Turkish ports fell to 311 last year from 1,542 in 2013, as a result of cruise ships removing the Eastern Mediterranean from the route. In the same period, the number of cruise tourists Turkey hosted plummeted to 307,000 from 2.2 million. With cruise companies re-including Turkey in their route, the sector has gained momentum in 2018 and is expected to return to the previous figures soon.
While efforts to reinvigorate cruise tourism continue, the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry has made a move to eliminate the lack of ports, one of the biggest problems facing the sector. Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the cruise port project which will be actualized in Yenikapı, will be tendered next year and put into service soon after, generating excitement in the sector.
Erkunt Öner, the chairman of Tura Tourism, the Turkish sales agent of Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean cruise companies which plan to invest in Turkey, stated that they are waiting for developments about the Yenikapı project. Öner underlined that when the cruise port in Istanbul is completed, the number of cruise tourists that Turkey will host will rise by 1.5 million in the first stage. "Given that tourists spend an average of $1,000, they will make $1.5 billion contribution to the Turkish economy on an annual basis," he added.
Indicating that the cruise port's integration with Istanbul Airport will boost its significance, Öner said: "Tourists arriving by air will be able to access cruise ships in Yenikapı. Likewise, tourists coming with cruise ships can depart from Istanbul by air. From this point of view, both Istanbul Airport and the Yenikapı Cruise Port will create significant dynamism for the tourism sector." Suggesting that cruise tourism planning is made two years in advance, Öner noted, "We expect that the number of cruise tourists coming to our country will reach 3 million within five years. Thus, Turkey will be hosting some 15-20 percent of cruise tourists coming to the Mediterranean."
According to Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan, a 3,000-meter dock will be constructed for two berths and eight cruise ships within the scope of the project. Furthermore, a 30,000-square-meter passenger lounge and a marine terminal capable of holding 500 yachts at once will be built on an area of 120,000 square meters.
When construction of the port is completed, approximately 3 million tourists are expected to come to Istanbul. Their expenditure on guidance and transport services, coupled with cruise ships' refueling, food and beverage costs, port costs and the taxes to be collected, will invigorate the national economy.