Etstur VesselA Turkish tour operator has quietly moved into a dominating position in the local market.

Etstur claims to control upwards of 54 percent of Turkish passenger sourcing, via a major travel agency network.

Starting as a tour operator in 1991 in Istanbul, Mehmet and Murat Ersoy have grown the company to the point where Etstur has chartered full ships under its own brand since 2012, with the Aegean Paradise and another vessel (to be announced later) on the docket for summer operations under the Etstur banner in the Mediterranean.

“Local cruise tourism in Turkey is making great progress,” Ahmet Yazici, cruise department manager at Etstur, told Cruise Industry News, “and there’s good potential for further significant progress.”

In 2012 the company moved into charter operations with the 652-passenger Aegean Paradise to fill a niche for Turkish guests.

The company-branded ships carried 22,000 passengers in 2012, 35,000 last year and forecasts call for an increase this summer.
“At present we hold 54 percent of the domestic cruise market and are seeking to increase that number further,” continued Yazici.

What’s behind Etstur’s commercial success is a formidable and well-oiled sales channel consisting of 175 travel agencies, a website with over 30 million visitors per year, various Atlasjet agencies and a call center.

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