Official data indicates that in the first nine months of last year, the number of passengers arriving in Turkey via cruise ships exceeded one million, confirming the robust tourism season that is expected to conclude at a new all-time high.
Turkey depends heavily on tourism for its economy, and over the years, it has made significant investments to make sure that the ports can accommodate the huge, luxurious ships that will make this a top destination for both cruise aficionados and tourists.
Cruise numbers in Turkey
Data released from the Directorate General of Maritime Affairs showed that in the period from January – September last year there were almost 1.1 million tourists that arrived onboard cruise ships which accounted for a year-on-year increase of over 54%. 876 cruise ships docked in Turkish ports, which was an increase of 16.5% year-on-year.
Kusadasi welcomed over half of the cruise visitors with number increasing by 66% to total almost 604,000. Istanbul showed a 48.5% increase with over 260,000 passenger arrivals, with Bodrum in the Mugla province and one of the most chosen holiday destinations came in third with over 70,000 cruise passengers.
The well-known area of Cesme located in the western province of Izmir hosted over 50,000 passengers, whilst Antalya saw the arrivals stand at over 19,000.
Growth of cruise tourism
A tourism communications expert stated that due to the recent growth in the cruise tourism sector, Turkey was predicting that the sector could top the 1.5 million passenger expectation. This was even considering the cancellation of many tours that included Israel on their itinerary as a result of the Israel-Palestine ongoing conflicts.
According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data, there was a 14% increase of tourists visiting Turkey from the January – August period last year totalling over 33 million visitors. The Turkish government is hoping to attract more than 60 million tourists in 2024 and more than $56 billion in tourism revenue.
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