Kastamonu's coastal towns plan for tourism boom
Towns along Kastamonu province's Black Sea coast prepare for coming tourism explosion with new zoning regulations, new airports, marinas and hotels, but the region is remote, confined by mountainous terrain, lush forests and characterized by short summers
By Metin Demirsar
Bozkurt, Kastamonu (Dunya) – Coastal towns along the Black Sea shore of Kastamonu province, in northern Turkey, are planning for an explosion in local and foreign tourist arrivals.
New highways and mountain tunnels are under construction that will make the once-remote area more accessible. An airport in the neighboring Sinop province in the east went into operation in 2008, and a new airport to serve local flights opened in July 2012 in the provincial capital Kastamonu, only a couple of hours in distance from the coast.
Shelters for fishing boats are being expanded that will double up as marinas for European and Turkish yachts arriving from the Mediterranean via the Turkish straits and from northern and central Europe by way of the Danube.
The area is typical of the country's Black Sea coast. Fishermen's communities and small market towns are wedged between the mountains and the sea. Emerald green forests cascade down to the turquoise-colored waters of the Black Sea, making it an idyllic setting for travelers seeking unexplored localities.
The region's beaches are excellent for swimming and sunning, and its valleys, mountain plateaus and trails can be used for camping, wild boar hunting and trekking into the numerous canyons and wilderness country. The province also has scores of torrential streams where trout fishing is possible.
Towns like Bozkurt, Doganyurt, and Catalzeytin are unspoiled and placid, and the region is virgin territory for foreign and local tourists who want a real vacation.
"Tourists travel to southern coast for a holiday but they return home exhausted," says Naim Kose, county head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Bozkurt, a town 5,500, two km (1.2 miles) inland from the coast and a county capital. "This part of Turkey is a real vacation wonderland."
Kastamonu is one of Turkey's biggest provinces, but its relative closeness to Ankara and Istanbul makes its coastal area an attractive alternative to the tourist boom towns of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. With 170 km (106 miles) shoreline, it has the longest coast of Turkey's 13 Black Sea provinces.
Nevertheless, the mountainous terrain and short summers limit tourism growth. There just aren't many places where new hotels can be built, local officials say.
"Our only problem is the lack of sufficient hotels. Come summer, our hotels operate at 600% capacity," says Hasan Ozlu, a member of the tourism commission of Kastamonu's provincial assembly and a local businessman from Abana.
Musa Ihsan Uguz, an architect who has been serving as mayor of the coastal town Catalzeytin for the past 12 years, says the provincial and national authorities need to determine where new hotels can be constructed.
"The state must provide land which can be leased for periods of 49 years to 99 years to hotel builders," Mr.Uguz said.
Here is a thumbnail sketch of the towns along Kastamounu's coast and how they are coping with tourism.
Cide is the first coastal town in Kastamonu province reached as one travels east from neighboring Bartin province. A market town with a population of 5,489, Cide is also the county seat of county with the same name.
Rifat Ilgaz (1911-1993), one of Turkey's best known writers, made the region famous with his writings about the people of the Black Sea Coast. His wooden-framed home is located along the beach area, and a local festival is held annually in the town in his honor.
With 11km of beaches, Cide has the largest beach area in Kastamonu province. It has several hotels with a total bed capacity of 600, the largest among the coastal towns of the province
Loc, a Shangri-La valley 25 km south of the town hidden behind a wall of mountains, offers campers opportunities to trek into the nearby gorges of the Devrekani River.
With a population of only 1,189, Doganyurt is possibly Turkey's smallest town, located on the edge of the sea, surrounded by mountains and verdant forests.
Nevertheless, the market town, which has existed since the 4th century B.C., is expanding its shelter for fishing boats to accommodate yachts, Omer Salih Kayirhan, 40, a town councilman and retailer of LPG containers and household appliances and construction materials, says.
Already European boats men have already discovered the town.
The next town, Inebolu, reached by hairpin turns, was a vital supply center during the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1922). Monuments from the war years abound in the town, including the statue of Serife Baci, a woman who carried shells on her back, from the town into the interior and who perished in a snow storm.
It was in Inebolu, the most populous coastal town in Kastamonu, that Kemal Ataturk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, on August 23, 1925, introduced western style clothing, including a hat with a brim to replace the fez.
A statue of Ataturk stands in front of the Turkocagi (Turkish Hearth) building in the town's center.
The picturesque town, built on the slopes of mountains surrounding the settlement, is famous for its 19th century red-colored wooden houses.
Founded in the 4th century BC, the town was known as Iyonopolis under the Byzantine Empire. It became Inebolu after the Turks conquered the region in the 11th century.
New sewage systems have been built and roads modernized in the busy market town to prepare for tourism, says Kadir Celebi, a town councilman. Inebolu has three hotels, a holiday village and teachers' hostel that serves as a hotel.
Abana, a town with a population of 2,800, lies in front of a long pebble beach. It is also the county seat. During stormy winters, rollers from the Black Sea pound the shore, often flooding shoreline homes and streets. The town is confined to the shore by lush hills that rise perpendicularly behind it.
The town has three hotels, three holiday villages of bungalow homes, and two teachers' hostels. But many residents offer rooms in their homes as pensions to visitors during summers.
Bozkurt, which is the most modern town in the region, is located only two km (1.2 miles) inland from Abana, but it has a large coastal area, west of Abana, including several villages such as the picturesque Ilisi, with its Alpine wooden houses.
The town, located in a valley surrounded by mountains, has modern apartment buildings. It is famous for producing some of the country's top leaders, including Enver Pasha (1881-1922), the army officer who led the Young Turks revolution and who was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars and World War One.
The town of Catalzeytin, the last community and county seat in the coastal area of Kastamonu, has a Genovese Fortress overlooking a new boat shelter and a long sandy beach.
Mayor Uguz believes tourism may help solve the region's unemployment problem.
"Catalzeytin has a population of 2,500. The villages of the county have 7,000 inhabitants. But 70,000 citizens from Catalzeytin live abroad, including places as Hawaii and Florida. They've moved because no jobs were available here," he said.