Middle East Cruise News

Turkey sees surge in cruise tourism following opening of Galataport in Istanbul

More than 299,000 cruise passengers visited Turkey between January and May this year, an increase of 114% from a year ago, according to the country’s transportation minister.

Cruise tourism in Turkey has been particularly boosted by the opening of Istanbul’s new mega Galataport, which became operational in the last quarter of 2021.

Reflecting the growing size of cruise ships across the industry, Turkey also saw an increase in cruise calls, but only by 43%.

Viking Sky alongside at Galataport, Istanbul

“Cruise tourism investments will continue and ‘Century of Türkiye’ will be the century of cruise tourism,” said Abdulkadir Uraloğlu, the Turkish Transport Minister.

“With the recent surge in investments, cruise tourism in Türkiye is experiencing exponential growth. Our dedication to developing cruise tourism is paying off, as evident in the increasing number of cruise passengers we have welcomed, despite the setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Kuşadası remains the most popular cruise port in the country, a title it took from Istanbul during 2016 when security concerns saw many cruise lines drop the city as a port of call.

A total of 157,940 cruise passengers were hosted at Kuşadası Port on Türkiye’s Aegean coast, 67,740 at Galataport, 3,276 at Istanbul’s TDI Sarayburnu dock, and 14,777 passengers at Antalya port.

Kusadasi harbor, Turkey.

Galataport opened in October 2021 in Istanbul’s Karaköy neighborhood, but saw a slow start to operations due to the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the cruise industry.

The cruise terminal is home to a shopping center, a hotel, cultural venues and many famous restaurant chains, sitting on a 1.2-kilometer (0.74-mile) coastline that had been closed to public use for 200 years.

The terminal covers 400,000 square meters, including a 250,000 square meter space underground, where customs and passport control is carried out to keep the quay clutter-free.

Tourism revenue is critical to Turkey and contributes about 10% to gross domestic product, with around 1.7 million people working in accommodation and food services, about 5% of total employment.

Cruise tourism makes up a small portion of the total. Some 60 million tourists overall are expected to visit Turkey during 2023, contributing around $56 billion to the economy, but Turkey hopes to capitalise on the growing popularity of cruise holidays to grow their share of the market.

Leave a Reply