Kuşadası could have one of the best years in its history in 2022, given the number of cruise ships that have reportedly made reservations to anchor at the Aegean resort in Turkey.
The Port of Ege, which hosts the largest number of cruisers each year, has seen moorings accelerate in recent times, ushering in long-awaited mobility for tourism as the industry recovers from the impact of the COVID-19.
Given the numbers, next year could see a full rebound, as reservations have already been made for some 650 cruise ships – with the potential to attract at least 750,000 tourists – according to the regional director of Global Ports Holding for the Eastern Mediterranean and the general manager of the port of Kuşadası Ege, Aziz. Gungor.
Residents of Kuşadası, the main tourist hotspot in western Turkey’s Aydın province, had much to celebrate after welcoming the first luxury liner in September after a 16-month hiatus due to restrictions pandemic.
Some 13 more giant ships are expected to arrive this month and into December, months generally considered low season.
Serving as a crucial source of income for local businesses, visitors are usually taken to visit the historic village of Ephesus and the Meryemana House (House of the Virgin Mary) in Selçuk, a town in western Turkey where the assumption, or bodily ascension, of the Virgin Mary to heaven is said to have taken place.
“There was great interest from October 1st. We expected 30 ships by the end of the year. We’ve had 17 so far. 13 more ships will arrive by the end of the year. Even if it is late, it is a situation that makes us happy, ”Güngör told Agence Anadolu (AA).
“It makes an important contribution to the economy of Kuşadası. The months of November and December are normally quieter. They are generally marked by fewer vessels, but with the peak in demand, Kuşadası spends the last three months of the year with very intense maritime traffic.
Highlighting the severe impact the pandemic has had on local traders and businesses, Güngör said the recent mobility had created a “festive atmosphere in the bazaar”.
“It will also have a very good effect in 2022. Kuşadası’s economy is heavily dependent on cruise tourism. Therefore, everyone is eagerly waiting for 2022 to turn out in the right direction. It will be a year of recovery all over the world. In this sense, Turkey will be one of the countries which is recovering the most strongly, ”he noted.
“Looking at the current figures, there are reservations for 650 ships with 750,000 passengers. This is the largest number of passengers in the history of Kuşadası cruises. We await their arrival as long as there is no major setback. Therefore, this is shaping up to be a very good season for us in 2022. ”
Zeki Çalışır, a local trader, was also happy to return to the luxury liners after a hiatus of almost two years.
“The cruise port is a very important source of commerce in Kuşadası. The arrival of cruise ships and passengers is essential for us. I think we will have a good season next year, ”Çalışır said.
Another trader, Murat Taşın, says they haven’t given up hope despite all the problems.
“I hope everything will be fine from now on. The ships arriving this year are also a benchmark for next year. A ship customer means a lot to traders, ”noted Taşın.
“If there is a ship, there is Kuşadası. If there is no ship, there is no Kuşadası.