Granted, Kusadasi has countless top tourist attractions on offer yet most of us would probably agree that our Cruise Liner port is all but in pole position.
On the one hand it is a window to the world for curious passers-by including our children marveling at the sheer size of the impressive docked vessels whilst wondering about how many representatives of different nationalities will soon visit town and region? On the other hand it is such a wonderful window to Turkey for everyone about to setting foot onto Turkish soil, quite a few travelers never having been here before; remember: first impressions matter the most.
Our fabulous resort is abuzz with guests and residents from all four corners of the world anyhow but is it not correct to say that ocean liners add an even more cosmopolitan dimension to its flair?
Let us continue by saying that Turkey is setting trends with a view to fair-play in this regard, too. Have we not all been visiting far too many foreign shores where dubious tradespeople significantly increase their prices during those days and hours when large numbers of cruise passengers arrive only to reduce them again once everyone has left on board their ships? Calling this bizarre approach to doing business a rip-off is an understatement of sorts. As a matter of fact the last such unwelcome incident happened to me in a country rather close to Turkey where things had gotten out of hand to the extreme in so far that a well-known restaurant advertised food and beverage at a rather elevated price level on one side of his signboard placed in front of his premises yet when the last day trippers had left hastily turned the very same signboard round to show an identical menu on offer only at 50 per cent less! How would one know for sure? I was there, no fake news!
None of this malpractice ever happens around here – Turkey and Kusadasi are role models of and for an honest hospitality sector industry neither treating day visitors as potential millionaires who should be charged more nor hoping for that local folk would tolerate such a discrimination because the moment word spreads round and ever more so in the age of 24/7 internet travel reviews our city’s reputation would be seriously harmed.
Thus said the way how our tourism industry members work year after year to further build a perfect sea, sand and sun image for guests from near or afar merits applause. In particular so as the world famous ‘Three S’ have since long been marketed together with many other letters as there are for example ‘a’ as in archaeology, ‘c’ as in top-notch cuisine, ‘h’ as in history or many more ‘s’ as in stylish shopping, or high quality souvenirs.
And exactly at this point should we return to the overarching topic for this article – why we greatly benefit from living not just next to, but ideally with our cruise liner port.
First, regardless of whether we have booked a cabin on one of those floating palaces complete with elevators or prefer to keep our feet on solid ground cruise liners are probably the last remaining travel option where glitz and style are to be found in abundance. You do not have to be on-board yourself, you simply feel it; you sense it. Is going by train or even flying still luxurious in a positive sense? Walking through our city center on a busy day mingling with thousands of new arrivals enables us to realize that we all have come to the right place, have done the right thing; have opted for a fantastic resort.
Second, please re-consider my critical comments earlier on but seafarers bring serious business to town and region (as long as they are not over-charged hence never return!). They eat out, go shopping; they would embark on sightseeing tours. And above all else, they carry the message to friends and family back home in a sense of ‘this is a great place to visit’.
Add personal safety into the mix – the word theft or pick-pocket is basically a non-starter over here. Yes, this is an opinion piece written by a journalist so we should not fall into the trap of being overly attached to clichés of whatever description but is it not true? Is going out either daytime or nighttime not as safe an undertaking as visiting Fort Knox? You would not flash a grand asking for change at a local bar or parade town with two Rolex at 2 a.m. in the morning anywhere else either, would you? Hence stay safe but as everyone else does, you should be anyways! Crime is simply not tolerated around here.
Third, they might come back. Who? The cruise passengers! After enjoying a day or two in a new destination, then deciding to return next year as a fortnight’s tourist – the perfect continuation of what should turn into a frequent traveler’s love affair.
Which brings me to my final observation for this edition of The Ege Eye: should we really argue the case for an ever increasing number of incoming tourists and here regardless of whether on board a ship or arriving by plane? My modest response would be: for the time being we seem to have found an almost perfect balance.
During the quieter winter months the town basically belongs to us residents, Turkish and friendly foreign imports so to speak. We have time to wind down, relax, take stock or enjoy walks in splendid isolation along the coast. But if we are truly honest to ourselves, somehow we love the summer season too. Bars and cafés and restaurants are full with happy voices and laughter, we are once more part of a multicultural international community where conflict is a word confined to the small screen watching news but not part and parcel of our daily lives.
Has this been a newsworthy article making headlines? Not at all, and never intended. What your friendly columnist wanted to hint at instead is that at times overlooked by those of us who call Kusadasi home is the fact of having a big port amidst us, right at our doorstep is something to cherish, to visit; to recommend.