The resumption of cruise tourism in Turkey after the pandemic has caught experts' attention. The total number of cruise passengers, including those in transit, increased by 14 times in the first quarter of the year compared to last year.
The sector representatives noted that the summer period of 2023 and 2024 will be the year of cruise lines for Turkey, and the number of passengers will reach 2.3 million in 2024.
The cruise tourism industry which was at a standstill until 2021 with the pandemic's effects, recovered quickly.
In 2022, Istanbul port hosted 150 ships from 23 shipping companies affiliated with the leading brands of the sector and 350 thousand passengers. The port authorities aim to host approximately 200 ships and 400 thousand passengers by the end of 2023 and to serve 31 ship companies.
Stating that the occupancy rates have reached almost 100 percent, Galataport Istanbul Port Operations Deputy General Manager Figen Ayan said, "While the average occupancy rate of the ships was 50% last year, we see that the occupancy rates are between 90% and 100% in April this year. These data are very promising and another indication that we have left the pandemic period behind."
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism statistics, a cruise tourist who comes to Turkey spends an average of 62 dollars.
In 2023, 1,500 ships and over 1.5 million passengers are expected. Cruise tourism is on the rise all over the world. There are also port development studies in Turkey that will take its share. Especially in Black Sea ports, there is an increase of nearly 300 percent.
However, Turkey's global cruise tourism share could be more significant. It remains below about 1%. Baltic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean regions dominate the global cruise tourism market share.