A total of 40 cruise ships dropped anchor at Ege Port in the Kuşadası region of the Aegean province of Aydın in the first five months of this year, ranking first among other ports in terms of the number of ships and passengers.
Cruise ships brought some 29,468 tourists to Ege Port, a top destination for luxury cruise ships, in this period.
In the same period last year, the port welcomed some 34 cruise ships, bringing around 22,438 passengers.
Also, six cruise ships anchored in Marmaris, and one in Bodrum and Dikili each in the first five months of the year.
Aegean Port General Manager Aziz Güngör told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey is a vibrant country attracting attention for its cruise tourism and that the industry has seen significant recovery.
Noting that the figures are more pleasing than for the previous two years, Güngör said they would host 198 ships and 185,000 passengers by the end of the season.
Indicating that bookings for 2020 are pretty good, Güngör noted they expect more than 300 ships to bring 350,000 tourists next year.
Since Turkey has more historical and natural beauty than the western Mediterranean and North African countries, Güngör noted there is an incredible demand for Turkey in this regard. Pointing out that around 3 million tourists arrived on cruises in 2015, he added: "The industry has slightly declined in recent years but will continue to grow as of 2019. We believe that we will see 3 million cruise passengers in Turkey again in the next two years. We can say that we have left the bad days behind in the cruise sector as of 2019. We believe that it will continue to rise from now on."
Efe Esen, a tradesman in the province, said the sector has recovered this year, following a few challenging years.
Since the increase in the number of cruises parallels tradesmen's gains, Esen said: "This pleases tradesmen in the province. We did not give up during the challenging process. We struggled but did not lose hope. 2019 has brought us hope. I would like to thank everyone who struggled for this."
Habidder Kekeç, another tradesman, said that the sector has been invigorated this year following two slow years, adding: "Tradesmen are happier and more pleased. We are hopeful for the future. We, as tradesmen, are trying to keep up with the increased interest in the most effective way."
Kuşadası is a famous holiday resort town and is situated conveniently close to major archaeological sites and Dilek Peninsula National Park, one of Turkey's most biologically diverse areas. Kuşadası is also home to some of the region's most pristine beaches.
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