Turkey's efforts to reinvigorate cruise tourism in the country continue and it is making moves to eliminate the lack of ports, one of the biggest problems facing the sector. A tender for the new cruise port to be built in Istanbul's coastal neighborhood of Yenikapı is set to held by the end of the year, the culture and tourism minister announced yesterday.
The cruise project will be tendered by the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told reporters on the sidelines of his visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Turkey aims to make Istanbul one of the major cruise centers in the Mediterranean region, while it also seeks to increase its share in global cruise tourism, which is reported to have an annual turnover of $35 billion, to approximately $1.5 billion.
"It is of the capacity to host 5-6 cruise ships at the same time. If we can complete the tender by the end of the year, it seems it will reach the 2021 season," Ersoy said.
Speaking of the project in late November last year, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said 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.
It was also reported that 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 the cruise ships' refueling, food and beverage costs, port costs and the taxes to be collected, will help invigorate the national economy.
Elaborating on the latest tourism figures, Ersoy pointed to the increase in the number of tourists and income in the first quarter of this year.
Turkey welcomed 5.44 million foreign visitors between January and March, a 6.12 percent year-on-year increase, the Culture and Tourism Ministry announced last week.
The minister said there was a decline in the number of tourists from Iran due to the embargo the country is facing, however, and noted that there is a serious increase in the tourists arriving from the West, adding that he thinks targets would be exceeded by the year's end.
On the other hand, Turkey's tourism income totaled $4.63 billion in the first quarter of this year, a 4.6 percent rise year-on-year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
"It seems that we will achieve the 50 million tourists and over $35 billion in income we set for this year. We see that these figures will develop further in the coming three months," Minister Ersoy said.
Pointing out that overnight income per tourist is more important, rather than income per tourist, the minister noted that it continued to increase and went up to $65 from $63.
TurkStat said visitors' average expenditures were $697 per capita, as foreigners spent $678 per capita and Turkish citizens living abroad spent $765 per capita.
GALATAPORT TO OPEN IN MAY 2020
Answering questions regarding the construction of another major project, the Galataport Project, Minister Ersoy said they talk with the investor company regularly and that they were committed to open it in May 2020. The minister said the port will be able to host three cruise ships.
Almost TL 4.5 billion was reported to be invested in the Galataport Project, located in the area that connects Karaköy and Tophane, two Istanbul districts of great historical value.
At a very crucial point in Istanbul having survived centuries as the gateway to the sea, Galata Port will have various functions, stemming from a new project that adds additional value to Istanbul as a center of culture, tourism and commerce.
Moreover, by opening the most beautiful stretch of Istanbul's coastline to the public, the Galataport Project will connect urban life with the sea, offering a new gateway to Istanbul's unique culture. By restoring designated buildings inside the Galataport area, the project will also give valuable historic buildings back to the city of Istanbul. The Galataport Project is projected to make a significant contribution to the economy in regional and macroeconomic terms and contribute to tourism in various fields of activity and investment.