Living on the Turkish waters is a delight

With competition for maritime tourism in the Mediterranean hotting up, Turkey is aiming to expand its slice of the lucrative European cruise and yachting market.

As part of the Turkish government's ambitious plans to encourage tourism, which earned a record $18.5 billion for the country last year, the push to attract more cruise liners, yachts and pleasure-craft is also promoting the coastal property market, where most foreigners are buying.

Cruises are one the fastest expanding tourism sectors in Europe, with a record four million Europeans taking a cruise holiday in 2007. To increase its share of this market, a series of modern cruise liner terminals have been developed along the Turkish coast. The country's largest is in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi, with an estimated 700,000 tourists passing through its $20 million terminal in 2007 on their way to the nearby Roman city of Ephesus and other local tourist attractions. Istanbul, Dikili, Izmir, Bodrum and Antalya – which is to undergo a £3 million expansion- are other popular ports-of-call on the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea cruise circuits.

In common with the growth of cruise tourism, boat ownership has grown dramatically across Europe in recent years with competition for the limited number of berths and rising costs in the marinas in the western Mediterranean encouraging more and more yacht owners to look east towards Turkey. Between 700,000 and 1 million pleasure craft cruised the Turkish Mediterranean in 2007 according to official figures.

"With its reliable summer winds, dramatic, unspoilt coastal scenery and varied on-shore attractions, Turkey is one of the premier yachting destinations in Europe. Another big draw are the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Rhodes just off-shore," explains Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey guide. "Facilities have improved dramatically in recent years with modern marinas in many resorts and berth fees well below other more established yachting destinations like Spain or France."

Modern marinas are located in Istanbul, Bodrum, Marmaris, Gocek, Kusadasi, Fethiye, Kemer and Alanya, with new facilities planned or under-construction in Cesme, Sigacik, Didim and Kas, and government plans anticipating an eventual increase in marina capacity to 25,000 berths. The Didim Marina, currently being built in the popular package resort of Altinkum, will be the country's third largest when it is completed in 2009. It will include an extensive dry dock and 450-berths. Meanwhile, international marina operator Camper and Nicholsons, who own the Port Gocek marina in Gocek, are re-developing Cesme Marina, which will re-open in the Aegean resort of Cesme in Spring 2009 with improved facilities and a 375-berth capacity.

The development of cruise tourism and marinas is having a positive affect on the property market along the Turkish coast. In addition to widening the appeal of the country as a holiday destination, particularly at the upper end of the market, economic growth and job creation are encouraging demand for housing in the resorts, pushing up prices and increasing rental potential for local property owners. Despite significant increases in property values over the last 5 years and an upsurge in the number of foreign buyers – there are over 21,000 British-owned properties in the country today- Turkish property remains cheap in comparison to more established Mediterranean markets, such as Spain.

"Property in the up-market yachting resort of Gocek is some of the most expensive on the Turkish Riviera, with villas costing from £250,000 to well over £1 million; but elsewhere it is still possible to pick up a great value property within walking distance of a slip-way," says Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey guide. "In Altinkum, for example, apartments just a short walk from the new Didim Marina are available for less than £50,000."