SEVGİ SAYAR BAŞARAN
ISTANBUL - Referans
Turkey has become a new hub for yacht construction, due to an increasing interest among Turkish businessmen who regard sailing the sea as, among other things, a great way to reduce stress.
Industry observers note that businessmen prefer owning boats due to their interest in the sea, and to be used for fishing, sailing, and transportation in the city. Round-the-world voyages are, perhaps, the most-hoped for dream of businessmen, who believe owning a boat or yacht should be seen not as a status symbol, but a hobby.
It is possible to build boats and yachts to appeal to every economic level in Turkey, with prices ranging between $4,000 and $100 million. As owning a boat or yacht becomes a rising trend among those making up high-income groups, activity in this sector has also increased.
There are 360 ship building firms in Turkey producing over 250 boats annually. The yachts built in the county sail the seas bordering several countries of the world. Besides, many prominent figures, including Russian businessman Roman Abramovich and U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump, order their yachts from Turkish builders.
In the top three:
Turkey, which currently ranks second in wooden yacht production in the world, is the third-largest builder of mega yachts, after Italy and the United States.
While ship owners who normally build commercial ships diversify into yacht construction, European yacht producers have transferred their new ship building to Turkey. Yacht builders in Mediterranean countries come to work in Turkey via establishing shipyards, or through partnerships with domestic manufacturers. These firms include Italy's Perini and Solare, Germany's Formant and Peer Gynt, the Swiss Nedship Group and the English Oyster Marine.
Turkish firms that loom large in the industry include 3E Yat, Vicem Yacht, Deniz Yatçılık, Egemar, Mat Yatçılık, Mengi Yat, Numarine, Orion Yatçılık, Viking Marine and Yıldız Tersanesi.
Holdings also start production:
Swift development of the maritime sector in recent years has drawn the attention of many Turkish holdings.
Profilo Holding builds mega yachts for celebrities using the shipyards of Proteksan in Istanbul's Tuzla district. Proteksan, in which Profilo is a partner, is among the top three firms in mega yacht production.
�We build mostly mega yachts. We built two yachts for Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone,� said Göksen Körezlioğlu, chief executive officer of Profilo Holding. �All yachts are specially designed,� Körezlioğlu said. �Our yachts are more luxurious than the world's best hotel suites. We build two boats a year. We plan to increase our capacity to build three boats next year.�
Koç Group, Turkey's largest company, also builds mega yachts with RMK Marine. The company, which shifted to mega yacht production after being acquired by Koç, has a special importance for Rahmi Koç, its honorary chairman and a sea voyage lover. The company has sold 30 yachts to Europe's wealthiest customers. RMK Marine, which only builds on special orders rather than retail sales, also exports to Britain, Italy and the United States.
Kıraça Group, owned by İnan Kıraç, is also involved in ship construction. Sirena Marine, which operates within their shipyard, builds yachts for the world-renowned Italian boat manufacturer, Azimut, in Bursa. Meanwhile, Sanko Holding builds yacht in Antalya and Istanbul for Vicem.
The qualified labor force in Turkey is a factor for foreigners' preferring the country, said Murat Bilican, owner of Ada Boatyard, which has built yachts for well-known businessmen such as Ömer Sabancı, Yalçın Sabancı and Ali Ağaoğlu. �It is very hard to find such fine handcraftsmanship in Europe, or, people have to pay incredible prices for them. But customers manage to find more economic solutions in Turkey.�
Viking Marine has exported 90 percent of the yachts it built to date, said Alpaslan Sirkecioğlu, one of the firm's partners. However, the company has begun to offer services to the domestic market due to increasing demand, he added. �Interest in the sea is gradually increasing, but there are certain disadvantages to this, also. For instance, Turkey does not have sufficient marinas to accommodate boats,� he noted.