Marmaris Port eyes expansion

As port officials in Marmaris await approval from the Culture and Tourism Ministry to start construction on an additional 300-meter-long pier to be able to serve four cruise ships at the same time, local environmentalists oppose the plans, arguing that the increased number of visiting ships will put the future of popular tourism town at risk.

The plans to bulid an additional pier to Marmaris Port is still the number one item on the town’s agenda.

The general manager of the Marmaris Port has argued that the port needs expansion to profit more from cruise tourism. However, environmentalists counter that increased cruise traffic would harm Marmaris’s ecosystem.

Şükrü Tugay, general manager of Marmaris Prot Management Inc., told the Anatolia news agency that the port needs to expand to accommodate four ships at once.

The Marmaris Port was privatized in 2001, and the capacity is far short of the constantly increasing demand, Tugay said, adding that too few ships visited Marmaris before the privatization.

Over 100,000 cruise tourists
“The number of cruise ships visiting Marmaris was below 50 before we took over the management, now the number is 100,” he said. “This year so far, we have served 100 ships and more than 100,000 passengers. We have been attending tourism fairs, promoting the historical and natural beauties of the region. These efforts have helped cruise tourism boom.”

Currently, Marmaris Port has two piers, one of them small, said Tugay. “We can serve one mega-class cruise ship, with a length of 300 meters, and a middle-class ship up to 200 meters long. Our aim is to be able meet more than one demand for the same day and not turn down any cruise company just because we don’t have free space.”

According to Tugay, every cruise ship that does not visit Marmaris is a loss for the country’s tourism. “We know that we will not have four ships every day, but the cruise programs are prepared annually, and when you turn down a request for one day, that may result in being taken out of the whole program.”

The general manager said it would be too late for the Marmaris Port if they wait for demand to strengthen infrastructure, but must be ready for increased traffic and create its own demand. The plans of expansion include the construction of a 300-meter-long pier, which would increase the capacity of the port by two mega-class ships. Obtaining permission from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is in progress, Tugay said. “When the ministry approves the project, we can finish construction in 10 to 12 months,” he said.

Cruise tourism is the fastest growing part of the tourism sector, said Tugay, adding that Turkey and Marmaris must act quickly not to miss the opportunities.

As Marmaris Port officials await approval from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, environmentalists in Marmaris have already applied to state institutions and asked for the request to be turned down.

The future of Marmaris will be risked for financial gain, said Filiz Ersan, the Marmaris Environment Advocates Association, or MEAA’s, chairwoman.

More pollution feared

“Expansion of a port in service is not allowed anywhere in the world,” she said. “Marmaris looks like a small lagoon, with a bay unable to clean itself. If the port is expanded, the number of ships here will increase and cause more pollution. Emissions from ships will harm forests, animal species and sea life. The bay area cannot take any more ships.”

But Tugay disagrees that the port expansion and cruise ships will harm the environment. “Among the countries that mega cruise ships visit are Norway and England, which are known to be sensitive to environmental issues,” he said. “These countries would not let the ships in if they suspected the slightest harm.”

The cruise ships are state-of-the-art vessels, said Tugay, and most of them include a department to minimize the ship’s impact on the environment.

Source: Hurriyet


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