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Didim flourishes with new projects

15.09.2008

  Didim, a rapidly growing holiday resort, is today very different to how it was 10 years ago. The fast developing town now welcomes large numbers of tourists from all over the world to its beautiful beaches, ancient towns, lively culture and warm climate It has also been declared a center of tourism by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

  Tourism is the main source of income for Didim but agriculture is also an important contributor. There is no industry, said Didim's Mayor Mümin Kamacı and added, Farming is only done by the villagers in the suburbs.

  Didim, where the tourism season is not only limited to the summer season, readies to host Europe's second-largest marina.

  The $50 million marina's construction is expected to be finished by the end of this year. Yet, construction will not stop in Didim. There is also another project for cruise liners, which is planned to be completed in two years. The project was launched because the cruise ships cannot dock at the marina, said Kamacı, who became mayor in 2004. He said that besides these big projects, they were also constructing a highway, a cultural center and were also looking to increase the number of parks.

  There is also a customs office to be opened next to the marina, where the big U.S. sailing boats dock. Once the marina opens, Didim is expected to host high-income travelers and that will create an upswing in Didim. 

  When tourists come here they have the chance to visit the Apollo temple, which is three kilometers away, Priene and Miletos, the historical places, are one hour away, Ephesus and the Virgin Mary's House, which are the most holy places for Christians, are just 40 kilometers from the center, said Kamacı. The construction of the new marina is expected raise tourism income and property prices in the area.

  Didim has hosted a considerable number of tourists since the 1970s but since the 80s the tourism companies have included Didim in their tour programs. When groups of tourists started coming to this historic town, it triggered the hotel business.

  This year Didim's five star hotels were fully booked. According to Kamacı, if the town had the same amount of hotels they would have been full as well. People who want to invest in Didim should be supported by the local administration. It is a must that we expand the bed capacity, he said.  

  Most of the tourists who come to Didim don't want to leave because it is really easy to live here, the prices are cheap compared to European cities, even the house prices are low, Kamacı said, Expats have bought nearly 10,000 houses in Didim. During winter there are 2,000 foreigners living in the town, they go to bazaars, attend weddings and their children go to local schools. It is mostly British people who come to settle in Didim, Kamacı said. Most of the expats establish businesses with Turkish partners or rent their houses to foreigners through real estate companies.

  The shops around Altınkum beach, one of the blue flagged beaches of Didim, were closed a few years ago in winter, now they are open all through the year, noted the mayor.

  The municipality organizes events, such as theaters and concerts in winter for those who live in Didim. There is also a handicraft course offered to housewives. Women design accessorizes and paint wood, which they later sell in the open bazaar in Hanımeli Street. There are also British people attending the courses. The expats get used to Turkish culture quite easily and they like it, said Kamacı. British people have demanded a church from the municipality, who also have reserved places in the newly opened burial yard. Until today Turks and Brits were buried in the same graveyard.

  Upon stating that Didim's trade relations should be improved with Sisam and Kos Islands, Didim is a heavenly place, it is even advised by the cardiologists, Kamacı said.

ASLI SAĞLAM
DİDİM – Turkish Daily News



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