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24.11.2008

Coves of ’Blue Voyage’ facing risk of pollution

Doğan News Agency

BODRUM - The coves of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, which have hosted world leaders, world-renown artists and royalty members on ’Blue Voyage,’ are at risk due to urbanization and pollution, a recent study reveals. No coves will be left to host yachts in a few years, warns an expert
The beautiful coves of the Aegean and the Mediterranean shores, which hosted civilizations throughout various eras, are on the verge of disappearing, the results of a recent research has revealed.

According to a study supported by the Chamber of Sea Trade’s Bodrum branch, deficiencies in development plans and uncontrolled urbanization and fish farms have put half of the coves located from Didim to Antalya at risk. The coves should be preserved not only for their natural beauty, but also as a source of hundreds of millions of dollars as part of "Blue Voyage" tourism, the study suggests.

The coves at risk have hosted world leaders, world-renown artists, athletes and royalty members on "Blue Voyage," a special kind of tourism whereby tourists visit coves on the Aegean and the Mediterranean on yachts. There are around 6,000 yachts in Turkey that serve as charter yachts on these shores.

"Blue Voyage" has also been important in the promotion of Turkey. Many important personalities have bought properties in Turkey after seeing its beautiful bays. The result has been a property boom, especially in the area between Bodrum and Fethiye. Encouraged by new development, projects such as the $5 million shipyard in Milas-Ören and new marinas that have a total capacity for 2,000 yachts have been planned. According to official statistics, over 70,000 yachts, 1,200 of which were ultra-luxury mega yachts, have visited Turkey in the last two years, bringing an income of around $700 million to the region.

Bodrum Mayor Mazlum Ağan, who is also a founding member of the "World’s Most Beautiful Coves Union," said the region is a significant part of world tourism with its natural beauty and a history that dates back 5,000 years. "As we make plans for the next 50 to 100 years to preserve these natural beauties, bureaucrats from Ankara, who do not even know what ’Blue Voyage’ is, make decisions to save the day, which makes our job much harder," he said. "Development plans change every time the government changes. This is not the way to preserve nature or tourism. We must have long-term plans."

Ağan said they do everything possible to assist world-renown names who visit the region, as publicity that comes with them is worth millions of dollars to Turkey’s promotion campaign.

Arif Yılmaz, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Sea Trade’s Bodrum branch, said Turkey should get a bigger share of the 400,000 yachts in the Mediterranean. "The bell tolls for sea tourism in Turkey. If the necessary precautions are not taken, we will not have any coves to host yachts in a few years and the country will lose billions of dollars."

Yılmaz said tourists who come to Turkey by sea spend 20 times more than regular tourists, and Turkey is shooting itself in the foot by destroying coves by uncontrolled urbanization, pollution and fish farming. "We will send the report we have prepared on the situation of the coves to the relevant ministries. The report clearly states yacht tourism is on the verge of disappearing if we do nothing but watch. The current income from yacht tourism is $700 million, but it can easily go over $1 billion with just a little bit of effort."