Turkey is very a strategically located country in terms of international trade. It takes only four hours from Turkey to reach 1.5 billion customers in European, Eurasian, and MENA markets; markets which a represent a combined total of $25 trillion in GDP. The Turkish maritime industry offers immense opportunities to boost the country’s trade ties with its neighbors. Of the total goods transported into and out of the country, 85% go through Turkey’s 71 ports. In 2015, a total of 302 million tons of goods were transported in and out of Turkey by sea, of which 209 million tons were imports and 93 million tons exports.

The maritime sector represents an important source of employment in Turkey. According to a report by the EU Commission, the sector provides around 300,000 jobs and produces a total Gross Value Added (GVA) of more than EUR 4 billion representing 82% of the jobs and 74% of the total GVA generated by the sector.

In recent years, the Turkish government has increased its investment in the maritime sector in order to boost its competitiveness. Here is a snapshot of why the maritime sector plays such a strategic role in Turkey’s economic development plans:

Shipbuilding & Recycling

The shipbuilding, ship breaking and recycling industry is one of the fastest growing in Turkey. Today, Turkey has modern quality-certified shipyards that can build ships, mega-yachts and sailing boats as well as carry out extensive repair and conversion works. Currently, there are 87 shipyards in operation in Turkey.

Izmir’s Aliaga region is the main hub for the country’s ship breaking and recycling facilities. Turkey is currently the fourth biggest country in the world for ship breaking and recycling, after India, Bangladesh and China. Turkish shipbreaking yards recycled about 1 million tons of steel in 2015. It is estimated that the ship breaking and recycling industry provides 10,000 jobs in Turkey.

The Freight Handling

Freight handling capacity has been steadily increasing in Turkish ports. Turkey’s total freight handling capacity grew by around 50% in the last decade.

Port Development

Turkey has been developing its existing ports. Turkey has launched several large-scale projects to increase its port capacity and meet the needs of rapidly increasing freight transportation. This increase in capacity is expected to strengthen Turkey’s position on the global stage.

The main developments in this sector are the privatization of state-owned ports, large foreign investments in port expansion, and more joint ventures between private Turkish ports and foreign port operators in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

DP World opened a new container terminal in the city of Kocaeli, in Turkey in May of this year. The new terminal, which covers an area of 460,000 square meters, can handle up to 1.3 million containers. It has two main berths, meaning it can accommodate two vessels at the same time. The port features advanced technology such as remote-controlled gantry cranes and fast-scanner x-ray machines, the first of their kind in Turkey, which can scan 120 containers every hour. DP World Yarimca currently employs 300 people. Moreover, DP World announced that the new port would create more than 650 direct permanent jobs and a minimum of additional 800 jobs indirectly when its full capacity is reached.

Turkey is also building a new port in Izmir, called Candarli port. When completed, it will be the biggest port in Europe and the 10th biggest in the world. The port will have a capacity of 12 million TEU. The total project cost is estimated to reach €1 billion. The port will have a total berth length of 2,000 meters and its yard width will be 1,000 meters. Six 300-meter long ships will be able to approach and draw near the port at the same time.

Maritime Exports & Imports

Total volume of exports during 2006 to 2015 grew at a 48%, with 93 million tonnes in 2015.

Total volume of imports during 2006 to 2015 grew at a 51%, with 209 million tonnes in 2015.

Luxury Yacht Manufacturing

Turkey has gained wide international recognition for its expertise in mega-yacht building in recent years. Turkey’s mega-yacht building sector has been growing at a rate of 20% annually over the past years. Turkey’s yacht building sector was valued at over $5.5 billion in 2015. The country’s competitive labor force is a major advantage for its boatbuilding industry, as labor costs are lower compared to other European countries and the USA.

Did you know?

The world's largest mega-yacht, Dream Symphony, is being built at the shipyard of DSV yachting company based in Bozburun, in Turkey.


Turkish authorities consider the development of marinas as vital to ensuring Turkey’s ability to compete with other Mediterranean destinations such as Italy and France. There are currently 62 marinas and 75,000 boats in Turkey according to the Turkish Maritime Authority. Turkey’s current marina capacity is 17,500. Given the huge volume of maritime traffic in the Mediterranean (some 1 million boats travelling annually), increasing the capacity of marinas is crucial for Turkey. The Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs is planning to develop a number of marinas and foresees a doubling of the number of mooring berths by 2023.

Number of boats per capita estimated: (Vessel : Inhabitants)

Norway — 1:6
Italy — 1:68
Greece — 1:84
UK — 1:111
France: 1:127
Germany — 1:184
Austria — 1:293
Turkey — 1:1200

Did you know?

Turkey boasts 8,483 km of coastline, and the country currently has 71 ports and 62 marinas.

Cruise Tourism

Big efforts have been made in the last years to transform existing cruise ports in recreational areas and to establish a platform that brings together institutions and companies interested in cruise tourism.

Twenty-one Turkish ports received cruise ships in 2012. According to the Tourism Master Plan issued in 2011, seven new cruise ports will have been built by 2023. The number of cruise passengers landing in Turkish ports grew over the last years from 1.3 million in 2006 to 2 million in 2012, and is expected to keep on increasing in the years to come.