Istanbul's central Beyoğlu district experienced sweeping gentrification throughout the 2000s, as its popularity increased among locals and a boom in tourism brought more and more visitors. But a devastating string of terror attacks and woeful city planning have driven away locals and tourists alike, prompting a swift process of decline. ... After more attacks struck Istanbul, including a particularly shocking shooting spree at the city's main airport in June 2016, tourism revenues declined sharply—nearly 30 percent in 2016 compared to the prior year—and well before anyone could have previously anticipated any sort of tourism or real estate bust. While the occupancy rate for Istanbul in general increased 27.9 percent from April 2016 to April of this year, the average price per room decreased 29.8 percent, the worst performance in Europe.
Galataport, a $1.1 billion construction project on the coast just down the hill from Cihangir, sought to cater to the previously growing demographic of luxury tourists by creating a groomed waterfront with even more room for the cruise ships that were docking nearby, along with shopping promenades and hotels. “They started to restructure the entire waterfront area in the anticipation that more cruise ships would come, organizing the area in a such a way that these cruise ship travelers will be higher in number and spend more money in the vicinity,” says Güvenç.
The heavily-contested project has been a source of outrage for urban activists in Istanbul, and boiled over after two historic buildings were demolished within the scope of Galataport's construction. The project was promptly halted by the city municipality in April, though Güvenç believes that the contractors welcomed this decision as they faced to lose a considerable sum of money for an endeavor that is sure to fail if the current tourism figures remain.