August 26, 2019 / 9:39 AM / 21 days ago

Istanbul cruise port Galataport to open in Q2 2020 -chairman

ISTANBUL, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Galataport, a new cruise ship port in Istanbul, will open in the second quarter of next year after a $1.7 billion investment in the project, the venture’s chairman Husnu Akhan said on Monday.

He said Galataport, a joint venture by Dogus Group and Bilgili Holding, will host its first cruise ship on April 5, 2020 at its location in the centre of Turkey’s largest city on the European shores of the Bosphorus straits.

Turkey's tourism sector was battered tmsnrt.rs/3336LXv in 2016 after a series of bombings, a failed military coup and a crisis with Moscow after Ankara shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border.

Tourism, an important source of foreign currency for Turkey’s economy, has been reviving following the slump thanks to improved diplomatic ties, though hotels and travel agencies have been forced to slash prices to lure visitors.

Foreign arrivals to Istanbul, home to one fifth of Turkey’s 82 million population, increased more than 13% in the first half of this year according to tourism ministry data.

The Galataport project is expected to bring some 1.5 million cruise tourists to Istanbul, and to create 5,000 jobs, Akhan said.

Dogus Holding was among several large Turkish companies which sought restructurings last year, when a lira crisis pushed the economy into recession.

Akhan, who is also deputy chairman of the Dogus Group, said the group plans to divest two companies in the tourism sector by the end of this year.

He added that verbal agreement had been reached in provisional talks with banks on restructuring a 1.02 billion euro loan secured for the Galataport project.

Reporting by Ebru Tuncay and Ceyda Caglayan; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Daren Butler

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