Türkiye sets sail on cruise tourism boom-Xinhua

Türkiye sets sail on cruise tourism boom

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-17 20:03:15

ANKARA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Bolstered by over 1.5 million cruise ship passengers in 2023, Türkiye is making waves in the cruise tourism industry, according to industry leaders.

Passenger arrivals surged nearly 50 percent year-on-year, exceeding expectations set by officials, data from the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry revealed.

"Diversification is one of our biggest priorities," said Davut Gunaydin, vice president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, in an interview with Xinhua. "Cruise tourism is an important part of our efforts," the industry insider added.

Türkiye boasts several well-quipped ports for cruises, including Galataport in Istanbul and Kusadasi on the Aegean coast. Galataport, inaugurated in 2021, has boosted cruise activity across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Gunaydin said.

Noting that Türkiye trails Mediterranean neighbors like Italy in cruise market share, Gunaydin believed strategic investments could secure a larger slice of the pie. The country's unique position at the crossroads of four seas - the Mediterranean, Aegean Sea, Marmara Sea, and Black Sea - offers unparalleled potential for cruise itineraries.

Gunaydin is confident of Türkiye reaching its target of 2 million cruise passengers set for 2024 while saying that investments in modern terminals, aiming to increase per-passenger spending, would further bolster the national economy.

"Figures so far indicate that this year's target will be reached. It's a relief because the industry was badly hit by the suspension of cruise activity due to the pandemic," he added.

The current conflict in the Gaza Strip poses a risk to regional tourism, but Gunaydin downplayed its immediate impact on Türkiye. Some cruise lines have adjusted itineraries due to the violence, but the industry remains optimistic.

Tourism is a vital lifeline for Türkiye's economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing significantly to the GDP. Cruise travelers, known for their high spending habits, are a coveted demographic for tourism destinations.

"Cruise passengers likely spend ten times more than the average tourist," said Esra Demir, an associate at an Ankara-based travel agency, adding that the higher spending translates to a significant boost for hotels, restaurants, and retail businesses.

Kusadasi, a popular resort on the western Aegean coast, currently handles roughly half of Türkiye's cruise ship traffic.

"Kusadasi stands out as a cruise travel hub in the Aegean between Greece and Türkiye, and its potential could be further explored to accommodate more cruise ships and passengers throughout the year," Demir added.