ITCM interview with Leyla Cingoz, Secretary General, Izmir C&V Bureau.An exciting destination that feels it has been overlooked for too long is Turkey’s ancient city and province of Izmir. ‘We are taking two important steps on the way to gaining a higher profile’, says Leyla Cingoz. The first step was to create the Izmir Convention & Visitors Bureau, of which she is the Secretary General. The second step is to put Izmir forward as a candidate to stage World Expo 2020.
Leyla thinks it is high time for Izmir to get itself noticed, as the city can claim to be 3,500 years old. ‘We have a population of 3.8m’, she says, ‘and the average age is only 32. We can offer 300 days of sunshine a year and as many as 21 Blue Flag beaches on the Aegean Sea.’
She goes on to say how the city is mentioned in the earliest works of literature, such as The Odyssey and the Iliad and how one city in the Izmir Province, Ephesus, boasted the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Once started there is no stopping Leyla from singing the praises of Izmir’s attractions. ‘Alacati is a beach resort famed throughout the world as a wind-surfing paradise. We have thermal springs that have been praised for their healing powers for centuries. We have a fabulous Turkish bazaar and acres and acres of olives, grapes, cotton and citrus plantations. We are known for our international festivals of film and music. Our Izmir International Fair is the oldest trade show in Turkey and attracts one and a half million visitors. We have a 470,000sqm park with all kinds of wildlife’.
The Izmir CVB has recently been set up as a consortium with the city, DMCs and the main hotels as the partners. The staff of the CVB are volunteers from the member organisations. Leyla, for example, is a senior executive of Logo Travel, an incoming tour operator and DMC.