Currently under construction, Istanbul's mega port project Galataport is expected to revive the city's cruise tourism. The Culture and Tourism Ministry forecast that the port will host around 500 cruise ships with an average of 4,000 passengers each, likely reaching 2 million people, but with staff and crew of the ships, it is expected to be even higher.
In a statement to the press following his on-site examination of the Galataport Project, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy stressed that Galataport, scheduled to open in March 2020, will be one of the largest cruise areas of Istanbul and Turkey. Ersoy said that the whole project would be inaugurated at the end of 2020, that three large ships could dock at the Karaköy port at the same time and that an increase in future cruise bookings was already evident.
Culture and Tourism Minister Ersoy pointed out that holiday plans are made much earlier for cruise ships than other tourist reservations. "We will need the Karaköy Port from 2020 onward," he added, highlighting that it would be unfair to call the Galataport project just a cruise port.
The minister underlined that the port would be open to the public thanks to a movable wall system when ships are not available and that the project will be at full service capacity as of 2021.
"Galataport is actually a complete tourism complex, which Istanbul also needs. Our goal is to increase the overnight per capita income of tourists and prioritize and support projects that increase the non-accommodation expenses of tourists," Ersoy said. "It is a very significant project in this respect. Since people who come here will use the port as a hub, they will spend a lot of money in Istanbul. Places where they can easily spend money were created as part of the project. This is essential: If you have money in your pocket, but do not have a pleasant environment to spend, you will get on board without spending that money. Opportunities were also created for both ship personnel and tourists to spend money."
Ersoy noted that approximately 360 ships berthed in Istanbul before the crisis, but now capacity was around 560. "A very noteworthy increase," he said. "The project is a good promotion tool. Maybe visitors stay for a day or two, but the effect is much more when they go back to their own country. They and their relatives come to Istanbul for a longer period of time." Pointing to the very large publicity value of the cruise port and its significance in terms of shopping, Ersoy said tourism is much more than just an accommodation facility, adding all the people, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and restaurants need to make money. The minister added that if the port provides very good service, it could become the end destination for other cruise ships as well.
The ongoing Galataport project on the Karaköy coastline, which has been closed for about 200 years in Karaköy, will accommodate culture and art centers, a world-class cruise terminal, hotels, different brands, cafes, restaurants and office areas. The terminal includes a passport terminal, check-in areas and waiting rooms suitable for a high number of passengers along with a port to function as a hub with a capacity to provide service for the world's largest vessels. The port is being constructed by Turkey's Doğuş Group and Bilgili Holding's BLG capital.