The Turkish government is ready to pay cruise lines US$30 per passenger in a bid to win back cruise business after a severe slump in 2016.
The financial incentive was announced by minister for culture and tourism, Nabi Avci, at a press conference.
“We are offering companies that bring cruise passengers to Turkey $30 per passenger,” he declared.
The offer applies to ships with capacity for more than 750 passengers. This means, for example, that a subsidy of $30,000 would be paid for a cruise ship with 1,000 passengers.
The offer is similar to the subsidies that are already paid for charter flights to maintain air capacity despite weak demand. Airlines and tour operators receive $6,000 per flight to a number of holiday destinations, under certain conditions.
Cruise lines have steered away from Turkey over the last year due to security concerns following terror attacks in the country and as general demand for the destination has fallen dramatically. The number of cruise passengers visiting the country has fallen from about two million in 2015 to an estimated 600,000 this year.
Virtually all major cruise lines, including Aida Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Costa, have taken Turkey out of their programme. Among the few which have kept to their Turkey routes are TUI Cruises and Celestyal Cruises.
The question, therefore, is whether the financial incentive will be sufficient to persuade the cruise lines to resume routes to Turkey. Apart from the fact that most cruise routes are planned a long time in advance, one issue is that insurance companies sometimes exclude certain ports on a seasonal basis.