The annual average number of cruise travelers from the United States to Turkey is about 11 million, while the annual average number of those from Europe is about three million.
Cruise travelers bored with typical Caribbean cruises have turned their eyes to Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean voyages, creating a recent trend in cruise tourism that may prove a great benefit to Turkey.
“Cruise tourism is expected to expand in the Black Sea countries; so Turkey’s geographical position is highly important in this context. If she can make use of that chance Istanbul might play the key role in cruise tourism in the Black Sea,” said Artun Çağlayan, secretary general of the Turkish Maritime Tourism Association.
Although Greece has also opened its ports to cruise tourism, many prominent cruise companies in the world have chosen Turkey’s major port city Istanbul as a homeport, said Çağlayan.
The annual average number of cruise travelers from the United States to Turkey is about 11 million, while the annual average number of those from Europe is about three million, said Çağlayan. The target audience in cruise tourism is mostly middle-aged tourists from upper income groups, he added.
“Holiday goers have long been ‘bored’ of seeing the Caribbean islands and the Mediterranean. That is the reason why most of the cruise companies are now planning to organize tours in new seas, that is to say the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean,” said Çağlayan.
Istanbul to play key role
Yacht tourism has a major role in the development of cruise tourism in Black Sea countries. Some small cruise ships will start touring in the Black Sea this year, said Çağlayan, adding that Istanbul is expected to play a key role. “Therefore, the key to the Black Sea is in the hands of Turkey,” he said.
“People from different countries will land at the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. After they spend a couple of days in this city, they will get on the cruise ships and start touring the Black Sea. Setting sail from Turkish shores, they might even reach Sochi (a city in south Russia),” he said. Istanbul and Turkey in general can, therefore, play a crucial role in the newly developing cruise tourism industry in the Black Sea, he added, noting that seven prominent cruise companies are likely to choose Istanbul as their homeport for these trips. He said ports can also be built in İzmir and in the popular Aegean resort towns Kuşadası and Didim.