Lonely Planet Writer

Here’s why Turkey could be the next diving hotspot

An exciting new initiative to make the island of Yassiada in Turkey a scuba-diving hotspot has been delivered to the country’s Culture and Tourism Ministry. The island, which is off the coast of Bodrum, has been highlighted as a key spot that could bring underwater tourism to Turkey.

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Bodrum’s waters offer a variety of things to see and admire. Image by GettyImages/Borut Furlan

The project was prepared by underwater archaeologist and diving instructor Aşkın Cambazoğlu and Turkey’s first underwater archaeologists Oğuz Alpözen and Yaşar Yıldız as a result of nearly 20 years’ worth of work. According to News for Turkey, Cambazoğlu said that if the initiative goes ahead, Yassiada could host tourists 12 months of the year and could become one of the most notable places in the world for diving tourism.

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The island is surrounded by blue, clear waters. Image by GettyImages/AFP

The island is home to 12 shipwrecks that date back to ancient times up to as recently as 1994. There are shipwrecks that are based 15 – 45 metres deep from the second, fourth and 16th centuries as well as a Lebanese ship that sank in the 90s along with its livestock. Artefacts from the wrecks are on display at the Bodrum Underwater Museum including 2000 amphorae (a type of container descending from at least as early as the Neolithic Period).

“This project, which we have prepared to protect our underwater artefacts and share them with the world, will be the first of its kind in the world,” said Cambazoğlu.

Scuba diving in the Mediterranean
It’s hoped that this new initiative will bring in millions to the Turkish economy. Image by GettyImages/Sergei Bobylev

It’s said that the ambitious project will cost in the region of $750,000 (€603,000) and that artefacts will also be monitored 24/7 with cameras. It is also the aim of the project that the island will be revamped with a harbour, restaurant, conference hall and hyperbaric chamber which will allow therapeutic recompression.

Tourists will be able to watch the divers from above water and it’s hoped that should this project come to fruition that over 400,000 visitors will bring in at least $200 million (€160m) in the first two years to the area.