It was designed to carry hundreds of travelers 30,000 feet up in the air. Now an Airbus jumbo jet lies inert some 75 feet under the surface of the Aegean Sea – not twisted into wreckage, but slowly and deliberately sunk by Turkish officials in the hopes of luring fish and tourists in droves.
An Airbus airliner has been sunk off the Aegean coast by Turkish officials in a bid to attract more diving tourism as the country deals with declining overseas visitors.
The Airbus A300 was put under water from the south-western resort town Kuşadası, 50 miles south of Izmir, a popular tourism destination in western Turkey, on Saturday.
The jet, worth 270,000 Turkish lira (£64,000), had been broken up in Istanbul in April before being sent to the town in Aydin province. The plane will attract underwater flora and fauna.
It is believed to be the largest plane – 177 feet long and a 144-foot wingspan- ever used as an artificial reef and was bought by the Aydin municipality from a private aviation company.
The number of tourists visiting Turkey declined last month to its lowest rate in seventeen years amid security concerns and tensions with Moscow. Turkey has seen tourism fall by 28 per cent year-on-year in April, with 1.75 million people arriving in the country.
The number of Russian visitors plummeted by 80 per cent in April, following a spat between Ankara and Moscow over the downing of a Russian plane last year. The two governments had traded regular barbs and Russia’s agriculture watchdog says it is considering a ban on Turkish chickens, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Tourism is vital to an economy already struggling to bear the shocks of political crises and terrorist attacks.
A similar low was experienced in 1999 when the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) warned tourists to stay away from Turkey following the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan. Today, those militants are striking urban centres again as part of a renewed civil war with the government in Ankara.
The declining footfall does not bode well as Turkey heads into what would usually be considered high season for resorts along the Mediterranean coast. One of the UK’s biggest tour operators, Mark Warner, has already pulled out of Turkey, amid concerns about the growing unrest in the country.
In Istanbul, crowds have visibly diminished around some of the city’s most majestic sites, among them the Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica that later became an imperial mosque.
Source : telegraph