The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement to provide an $18 million loan to Ege Ports, which holds a 30-year concession to operate the Kusadasi cruise ship port on Turkey's Aegean coast. Kusadasi is Turkey's largest cruise port by passenger volume and a gateway to important historical sites, including the ancient cities of Ephesus
IFC's financial package for Ege Ports consists of a $10 million loan for IFC's own account and an $8 million syndicated loan for the account of Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), the Dutch development bank.
Ege Ports will use the proceeds of the IFC loan to finance its obligations under the concession agreement, construct a new passenger terminal facility, and improve the existing piers. The capital expenditure program is expected to enhance the port's efficiency significantly.
In 2003, the port handled more than 313,000 cruise ship passengers and over 1,030 vessels, a 31 percent increase over the previous year. In the first five months of 2004, passenger figures reached 56,000 and exceeded those of the same period in 2003 by 38 percent.
Francisco Tourreilles, director of IFC's Infrastructure Department, said, "The new facilities and improvements will help transform the port into a world-class cruise ship destination. The additional tourist traffic generated by the port will be a key driver of economic activity and increased employment opportunities in this historic area."
Khosrow Zamani, IFC's director for Southern Europe and Central Asia, added, "IFC's financing supports Turkey's efforts to increase private sector participation in infrastructure services. The loan will add momentum to the tourism sector, which is of strategic importance for the country."
Gregory Kiez, the chairman of Ege Ports, noted, "We are delighted to be working with IFC on this project. We look forward to our continued partnership with IFC and the World Bank Group on tourism initiatives in Turkey." (menareport.com)
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