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Izmir diversifies tourism appeal

3rd August 2007 Print
Izmir diversifies tourism appeal The city of Izmir, the third most populous in Turkey, is located in the Gulf of Izmir on the western Aegean coast and is home to the country’s largest port after Istanbul.

Izmir has a history of welcoming visitors with the first record of tourism dating back to 297 B.C. during the war of Troy when soldiers were brought to the regions thermal springs to rest and recover. And it’s not hard to see what attracts thousands of foreign visitors today; the combination of long hot summers, mild winters, rich cultural heritage, a wide variety of leisure activities, direct access from the UK and western outlook makes this region highly appealing.

Although the province of Izmir currently receives only 3.9% of Turkey's total tourism (TURSAB) the area is changing rapidly with government funded infrastructure projects and alternative tourism initiatives being put in place. A major development has been the building of a new terminal at the local international airport, only 11 miles away from the centre of Izmir which now receives direct flights from the UK.

One area in which the Turkish government are keen to expand into is thermal tourism. This ancient form of tourism utilizes the natural resources of an area, the thermal waters, for medical treatment, relaxation and revitalization purposes. Turkey is home to more than 1500 geothermal resources and over 500,000 tourists visit annually for health tourism playing an important role in the growing economy. The Thermal Tourism Cities Project (TTCP) has been launched by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry with the aim of establishing the country as the world’s leading thermal tourism destination by 2023. Over $100 million has been allocated for the development of thermal resorts and associated infrastructure in and around Izmir, Cesme and the surrounding areas.

International interest in Izmir not only comes in the form of thermal tourism but also congress tourism. The value of hosting exhibitions, congresses and meetings was $9 trillion in 2006 with over 2800 events being held in Europe alone. At present Turkey hosts 72 such events but the government is keen to increase this number in 2007. A new company, the Izmir Convention and Visitor Tourism Promotion A.S. has been formed to actively promote Izmir as a national and international congress location. In September the Izmir International Fair showcasing global trade and industry will take place and in December the annual Travel Turkey Fair which promotes tourism in the country will be moved from Istanbul to Izmir. The city is also bidding to host the Universal Expo in 2015 under the theme “New Routes to a Better World / Health for All”.

Both thermal and congress tourism work harmoniously with traditional leisure or holiday tourism as they hold appeal all year round. This spells good news for those who own property in the area as rental incomes will no longer be seasonal. The property market along the Turkish Riviera is booming. The combination of low property prices (apartments start from around £25,000), the availability of local mortgages in January 2008, a Mediterranean location and direct flight access from the UK make this area irresistible. Developments further down the coast, for example on the Bodrum peninsula, have seen property prices doubling in the last few years; as the vice-president of Turkey’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, The number of foreigners being tempted to invest in property in Turkey has swollen. With improvements to infrastructure it is set to be one of the most popular resorts, with rising property prices in the next few years’.

Caroline Hollingworth MD of Hollingworth & Associates, overseas property specialists, reiterated their remarks, ‘Considering Izmir is an international city with growing infrastructure and improved access by air its property prices are still remarkably low. Izmir represents probably the last opportunity for people to invest in the Mediterranean before prices rise considerably in near future’.

Hollingworth & Associates is marketing a five star resort in Izmir with 500 mixed properties on offer from 1 bedroom apartments to 5 bedroom villas. ‘Peninsula Village’ is located next to the sea and only an hour away from the international airport. No property is more than 300m from the water and most have beautiful sea views. Facilities include restaurants, shops, high quality sports amenities, recreational activities and fully staffed childcare. Every villa and apartment will have Satellite TV and Broadband connection. This exclusive gated development has its own private white sand beach and marina and luxury fitness and spa facilities will be available from spring 2009. Prices start from £23,342 for apartments and £49,496 for villas.

Caroline comments, “Peninsula Village is perfect for those looking for both a second home and a solid investment. Property prices are soaring at 20% per annum in this region and year round rental incomes are to be expected due to the summer and winter tourist markets.”

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Izmir diversifies tourism appeal