Chief Port Officer at Galataport İstanbul
lnterview by: Serhat Şengel
Can you talk about the adventure of transforming the historical port of the city into a world-class cruise port with Galataport İstanbul?
The foundations of Galataport İstanbul, a world project that touches every aspect of life, were laid in February 20 74. The historical port of the city has been transformed into a world-class cruise port and a new destination with the Galataport İstanbul project. One of the most important contributions of the project was the opening of this coastline, which has been closed to the public since the 19th century, to the public, thanks to the terminal, which was realized for the first time in the world and was constructed underground with a unique hatch system.
Can you tell us about Galataport Istanbul's contribution to tourism and economy in Turkey?
Galataport İstanbul, which came to life as an organic neighborhood as a continuation of Karaköy, will contribute significantly to Karaköy and Beyoğlu in the micro target, and to the country's tourism, promotion and economy in the macro target with the Galataport İstanbul Cruise Terminal, which spans 29.000 sgm2, a temporary customs bonded area is created and the coastline remains open to access, thanks to the special cover system that separates the bonded area and the security (I5P5) area when there are no ships in the port. The port has the capacity to berth 3 ships at the same time and to host 15 thousand passengers per day. It hasan infrastructure that can host the world's targest ships, such as Oasis Klas, which carries more than 8 thousand passengers, including the crew. Galataport Istanbul's cruise port makes an important economic contribution to İstanbul as well as other tourism attraction points in Turkey We expect total 1.5 million cruise passengers and crew to come to Galataport Istanbul annually. According to the data of the Ministry of Tourism, a tourist who comes to Turkey spends an average of 62 dollars. It is estimated that the average expenditure of cruise passengers arriving at Galataport İstanbul will be between 400-600 Euros. I would like to give some Information about the shopping lists of cruise ships. There is a significant amount of products such as 48,000 eggs, 9,000 kg of red meat, 7,500 kg of potatoes in the weekly shopping list of these ships. We anticipate that Galataport İstanbul will make a great contribution to the tourism and economy of İstanbul in terms of brand value. If every tourist who spends quality time here mentions 4 people about their visit to Turkey when they return to their country, we will reach millions of people every season.
What are your expectations for Galataport İstanbul in 2022? How many ships are expected to dock at Galataport İstanbul this year?
As Galataport İstanbul, we have hosted 10 cruise ships and 7 thousand cruise passengers since October 2021. We aim to host 250 ships by the end of 2022. Positioned as a 'home port', Galataport İstanbul will bring activity to cruise tourism in a wide geography from the Mediterranean basin to the Black Sea. We foresee that future ships and tourists will make a high contribution to the economy of both İstanbul and the country.
Figen Ayan, first Turkish President of MedCruise Association representing 145 ports
For the first time, at the head of a union representing 145 ports, a Turkish, moreover, a woman, to make positive discrimination. What was the power that brought you this success on your way to becoming the first Turkish president in MedCruise history?
When we look at Turkish civilization, we see that women have always been given power in this geography. Eg; Turkish women had the right to vote before British women, our first Turkish female pilot Bedriye Tahir Gökmen flew our flag in the sky in 1937, a few years after the French pilot Raymonde Laroche... These are some of the examples showing how Turkey empowered the women over the centuries. I have always been greeted in an embracing way in the maritime industry, where men are at the forefront and dominate. I have always seen support that will carry me beyond, regardless of gender, in the maritime sector. Undoubtedly, these supports enabled me to open up to new and great horizons. Other factors that have helped me progress in my career are undoubtedly my family and my country. I would like to state that I have progressed in my career by incorporating the inclusive philosophy, collaborative and sincere approaches I learned from them into my work.
Until 2024, you are the strongest representative of this great organization. Can you tell us about your primary goals that you set for your presidency and where you stand in these goals today?
As the president of the association, I want to promote sustainability, develop destinations and grow the association network. I explained to the industry that I wanted to create an epic era from the day I was elected to the MeaCruise Association and conveyed that my goals ıvere more ambitious. I can share that I don't like the word 'problems' and prefer to focus on 'Solutions' to achieve these goals.
The holistic sustainability approach is the backbone of our work, inspired by the word that covers and inspires the hashtag "MedCruise4ourPlanet".
Two of the MedCruise Association board members' roles are all about sustainability, shaped by a more indusive, humane and strong ecological awareness. The task of 'Ecosystem and Sustainability' includes the works related to the neighboring of the port and the environment, while the task of 'Technical Environmental Solutions' covers cleaner fuel supply waste reduction, carbon removal, marine ecosystem management and infrastructure readiness of the ports.
As President of MedCruise, do you have any special strategies for the cruise industry in Turkey?
With the motto "Our Diversity is Our Strength", I believe that I should have a role to play in achieving the 2050 net zero emission targets, depending on the profile and criteria of all cruise ports, regardless of whether they are EU members or not. We can make the world we live in cleaner and more livable with this goal as I have stated.
To talk about /our individual cruise experience, have you ever done a cruise before?
Yes, in 2017,1 organized a cruise with great pleasure, bringing together the wonderful women of our family. We took a five-day cruise tour of the Greek Islands with my mother, my now deceased aunt, my sister and cousin. It remained a good memory in our memories. We could not have completed so many destinations in such a short time and in such a comfortable way. I would like to thank Celestyal Cruises and KaravanMar Company for all their support.
Can you tell us about a special moment of your trip that has a special place for you?
Amazons! It is one of the rare places where I witness the power and splendor of trees. It was fascinating to see the roots of trees the size of my body sticking out of the ground and clinging to the branches of the trees tike ivy.
Is there a destination you would love to go to, if possible?
I would like to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu. While Machu Picchu is a place that pushes your physical limits, it creates a visual feast that will be engraved in your memories. Fyords is a region that I want to see a lot too, because it arouses my curiosity.