A large number of European luxury yacht owners are waiting for sea borders to reopen to dock at Turkish ports as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic faster than other major countries with coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea.
Begüm Doğulu, the head of the Yacht Tourism Association and a yacht operator, told Daily Sabah Sunday that the sector has received an increasing number of calls and reservations from the uber-rich of Europe to dock their luxury mega yachts in Turkish ports once the country opens its sea borders.
She added that the sector is now hoping borders will reopen in mid-June. “In this case, foreign yachts are likely to remain docked until the end of October.”
Countries like Turkey and Greece have become a top destination for wealthy Europeans, especially Russian, yacht owners, due to their success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic compared to Spain, Italy and France, Doğulu said.
She said the yacht industry is expecting a 50% increase in the number of mega yachts docking at Turkish marinas this year. Last year, 3,500 foreign-flagged yachts docked at Turkish ports with mega yachts accounting for 6% of them.
She said these luxury yachts, mostly owned by wealthy Europeans and Russian oligarchs, spend an average of 25 million euros (TL 194 million) when they visit the country and stay for around three months. “This figure is equivalent to the amount left by an average of 50,000 tourists staying in resort hotels.”
Sector representatives stated that the domestic demand for private boats and yachts has also increased as people try to avoid hotels and cruise ships during the pandemic.
Baran Yıldırım, the CEO of yachts charter and boat rental company ViraVira, said they expect demand for blue cruises, a vacation plan to sail off the Turkish Mediterranean coast with a private boat, to increase by 40% this year.
“If the restrictions on international travel continues longer, Turkish travelers who prefer to vacation abroad will opt for yacht tourism,” Yıldırım said. “We think that the part of those who preferred international holidays may also opt for yacht tourism,” he added.