With eight berths, Kusadasi was used to 600 cruise calls a year. Following the geopolitical situation in Turkey, those numbers dropped off the cliff. Now they are slowly rebounding as more cruise lines reintroduce Turkey to itineraries.
The gateway to Ephesus, Kusadasi offers significant shore excursion potential as the UNESCO site is located just 20 minutes by bus from the port and hosts over 1.5 million visitors per year. Shore excursions range from four hours to 10.
“After a quieter time over the past couple of years, we expect more than 200,000 cruise passengers to Kuşadası in 2019 and further increases in future years,” said Aziz Güngör, regional director, East Med Ports, Global Ports Holding.
“We expect an increase in cruise traffic in 2020 and a powerful recovery by 2021,” Güngör noted. “In 2019 we hosted a successful MedCruise General Assembly in Kusadasi which gave us the opportunity to showcase our destinations to the cruise industry. We expect to see its positive impact to all our Turkish ports in the following years.”
By 2022, the goal is to be back to pre-crisis numbers.
A new cruise port in Istanbul should complement Kusadasi’s business, he continued. Güngör also oversees Antayla and Bodrum as all three ports fall under the Global Ports Holding banner.
“Our ‘selling point’ would be providing a profitable destination,” Güngör said. “That is a destination promising high yields, high profit to cruise lines.”
That means, he continued, high participation in shore excursions sold onboard.
“Another point is excellence in organized shopping programs that are specially designed for different type of passenger consumer profiles from high-spending passengers to budget shoppers,” explained Güngör, noting that Global Ports had overseen a major refurbishment at the port’s shopping complex Scala Nuova Village in Kusadasi.
“The port is also planning to construct a third pier with 400 meters in length once the high demand is back in the upcoming years,” he added. “Our biggest challenge over the past two years was the false negative security perception Turkey was subjected to.”