Yacht owners propose making Blue Cruise tours year round

Recommendations have been put forward to extend the Blue Cruise, a voyage along Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, to cover the whole year, in an effort to extend the tourism season.

Arif Yılmaz, chairman of the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce Yacht Committee, believes providing the Blue Cruise year round could help the tourism sector. The climate is warm along the coast all year long, and there are many historical sites and animals to see both on land and under the water.

The Blue Cruise also stops by a number of coves and provides tourists with an opportunity to relax and enjoy the sun. The clarity of the water makes stops ideal locations for snorkeling, diving, amateur sponge hunting and underwater photography.

In addition, cruise-goers can enjoy nature, visit historical places and villages in the coves and take culinary, ecological or bird-watching tours, Yılmaz said, adding that yachts sailing the Blue Cruise can follow custom itineraries throughout the year.

He also emphasized that all coves between Baba Burnu, Çanakkale and Antalya’s Phaselis can be visited while on the cruise and noted that they need to be protected from industrial development.

Greece and Croatia compete with Turkey

Most Blue Cruise passengers come from the middle and upper classes, Yılmaz said, adding that the financial crisis has yet to affect cruise-goers.

Greece and Croatia also provides cruises along the coast, Yılmaz said, but added that the two countries use wooden sailboats that are much smaller than Turkish yachts and therefore have a smaller fleet. Furthermore, Turkey’s summer season is longer and the climate much warmer in the coves, giving it an upper hand in the Blue Cruise competition.

Murat Süslü, president of the Muğla Culture and Tourism Association, said they have accelerated work to promote the Blue Cruise routes as well as 24 marinas in Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye. Brochures are being prepared in four languages and will include information about the region and rules that need to be followed in Turkish territorial waters as well as numbers tourists can contact to learn more about the cruise, he said.

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