Ferry services between the southern province of Hatay and Turkish Cyprus have started with veterans of the Cyprus peace operation on board.
The ferry service was launched by HADO, a company owned by the municipality of Hatay, after obtaining international authorizations, four years of work and a presidential decree for the start of the service.
For these services, HADO has hired a ferry from Istanbul’s maritime bus and fast ferry company, İDO.
The Sinan Paşa ferry departed from Arsuz Marina on May 19 with a ceremony with 300 passengers on board, including 17 veterans who took part in the Cyprus peace operation in 1974.
“We plan to have ferry services to Beirut in Lebanon and Haifa in Israel,” said Lüftü Savaş, the mayor of Hatay.
Not only people living in Hayat or Turkish Cyprus, but also tourists visiting the province will show interest in ferry services, Savaş said, adding that it will increase tourism revenue in the province.
With ferry services to Turkish Cyprus, Hatay has become the first municipality to provide such an international transport service, according to Bülent Ok, deputy general secretary of the municipality.
Ok expects a large number of visitors from Turkish Cyprus in Hatay, which is famous for its cuisine.
Veteran Fuat Dalgıç said he was visiting Turkish Cyprus for the first time in 47 years.
“I was on the beach for three days when the military landing was launched. I was 20 then and did some volunteer work, now I’m 70. I probably won’t recognize all these places,” he said.
The veterans, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Mayor Lüftü Savaş attended a concert held at an amphitheater in Girne province (Kyrenia) to mark the start of ferry services. The Choir of Hayat Civilizations performed at the event.
The ticket for regular passengers for the 140-mile journey between Hatay and Turkish Cyprus is 750 Turkish liras (about $47) and 500 liras for students.
Ferry services will run twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays from Hatay to Girne and Thursdays and Sundays from Girne to Hatay. Tickets are available on the HADO website.