Turkey aims to secure larger slice of global cruise trade pie

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Turkey has established a “Turkey Cruise Ship Platform” consisting of 13 port cities in an attempt to secure a larger slice of the global tourism pie.

The cruise industry is growing, and Turkey needs to grab a larger share of the market, Izmir Chamber of Trade (IZTO) Chair Ekrem Demirtas said at a recent forum. “In 2003, only ships that had lost their way would come to Izmir, but last year Izmir hosted 504,000 cruise tourists,” said Demirtas, adding that their goal was for all of Turkey’s port cities to achieve the same level of success. He said this was particularly possible since all of Turkey’s port cities enjoyed great weather.

Among the port cities to be part of the platform are Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Iskenderun, Trabzon, Cesme, Canakkale, Marmaris and Kusadasi, among others. The decision was made at a meeting at IZTO attended by port presidents from the various port cities in Turkey, the chambers of commerce and trade, chambers of sea trade, municipalities and representatives from the governor’s offices. He said the new platform, with the representation of members of the Transportation, Maritime and Communication, and Culture and Tourism ministries, would soon take the name of “The Union of Turkish Cruise Ship Ports,” following a Cabinet decree. Demirtas also said there was currently no body to oversee that cruise ships docking at Turkish ports received superior service and no marketing or know-how to increase potential. Touching on the construction of a new cruise ship port in Izmir, Demirtas invited investors to take part in the Sept. 7 tender for the port. With the completion of the port, Izmir will be able to host 2 million cruise passengers, Demirtas said. Meanwhile, the president of the Greek Ports Association and president of the Piraeus Port, George Anomeritis said July 3 that Turkey and Greece had to engage in close cooperation with each other in the cruise ship industry.

Anomeritis, a former Greek minister of agriculture and tourism, visited Demirtas along with the chief executive officer of the Medcruise Line, Stavros Hatzakos. Piraeus and Izmir happen to be the two biggest ports in the area, Anomeritis said. Cruise tourism cannot thrive with a single port. All ports in the region have to be successful for cruise tourism, Anomeritis said. “We are not merely connected by a sea. Cruise ships unite us as well. Both Piraeus and Izmir market tourism and civilization. As ports in the eastern Mediterranean, we need to closely cooperate,” Anomeritis said. Meanwhile, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay said yesterday at the Seatrade Turkish Cruise Ship Forum in Izmir that if Turkey were to partner with Greece, the Aegean Sea would become the top tourism destination in the world. “Nine years ago, we only had 3,000 visitors to Izmir; last year, there were 500,000 for Izmir and Kusadasi. I couldn’t believe the number for Izmir. This year we anticipate 600,000,” he said.

Seatrade President Chris Hayman also said that in 2011 Turkey had hosted over 2.2 million cruise passengers. Hayman added that in 2011 there were 170 cruise ships in the Mediterranean and that 206 were expected this year.