The closing down of the main cruise port of Istanbul for the extension of port project negatively affected the economy of one of the prime historic districts in the city.
Istanbul’s historic cruise port in Karaköy was closed down in preparations for the construction of the new Galataport cruise ship facilities in 2015. With a dramatic decline in the number of cruise passengers visiting the Nuruosmaniye Street, chic and luxurious shopping spot in the Sultanahmet Square, many businesses have closed down over the last year, daily Dünya reported on October 24.
The number of foreign visits to Turkey had already declined to 17.4 million in the first eight months of the year, a 32 percent decrease from the same period in 2015, with dramatic plunges in arrivals from Western and Asian countries, and Russia, temporary data from the Tourism Ministry showed on Sept. 29.
“When the cruise port was open, Nuruosmaniye Street was visited by many cruise tourist groups in hot seasons. I did not even count the number of tourists that traveled by air. These good days have come to an end. Many hotels are empty now,” said a tradesman from the historic district, adding that they were mainly hit by a sharp decline in the number of tourists who liked shopping.
“We have faced around an 80 percent loss in our business revenues over the last year,” he added.
Another local tradesman said the sector was relieved during spring, but has been hit again by recent bomb attacks in Istanbul.
“In the past, we hosted many tourists, as they walked by our street on their way to the Grand Bazaar. Amid the sharp plunge in tourist arrivals, the Grand Bazaar shops have slashed their prices. Tourists, who are few in numbers, prefer shopping there rather than shopping from us,” he said, adding that many high-street shops on the street recently shut down.
Serkan Keleş, an executive from Koçak Gold, said their business deteriorated after the bomb attack that occurred in the central district of Vezneciler, which is in Istanbul’s historic peninsula. A car bomb that targeted a police vehicle in the Vezneciler neighborhood during the morning rush hour killed 11 people, six of whom were police officers, and wounded 36 others on June 7.
“Wealthier tourists do not visit Istanbul now,” said Keleş, adding that the golden year for the street’s economy was 2008.
David Evyapan from Çınar Carpet said he had not seen a worse season in the last 30 years.
“We lost almost 90 percent of our businesses this year compared to 2015. This is a tourist destination, if they do not visit here, we cannot make any business. Two bombs exploded in two popular spots in and around the Sultanahmet Square. Police officers are always waiting at the main entrance of the Grand Bazaar. This is not good for the tourism sector,” he said.