Club Med in Foça, a ghost holiday village

Club Med in Foça, a ghost holiday village

The internationally known Club Med’s holiday camp in the Aegean region of Foça, one of Turkey’s first tourism facilities, has not been serving since November 2005

Club Med Foça French Holiday Village, a virtual tourist paradise, with its natural flora spreading over an area of 500,000 square meters, woods, beach, 800 rooms, swimming pool, Turkish bath, theater, tennis court and sports fields, has become, far from its effulgent days, a ghost village, waiting for its fate to change.

Club Med Foça French Holiday Village had opened as the first modern holiday resort in the Aegean region. While Turks were barbecuing and eating watermelons by the sea, French tourists, bringing innovations to Turkish tourism, were surfing and sailing in the new holiday village. The first topless tourist photos, taken in Club Med Foça French Holiday Village, where Turkish tourists were not allowed, attracted much attention in the country at the time.

Foça Club Med, a business-tenant of the Turkish Retirement Fund since 1967, was taken over in 2005 due to privatization. The fund sold the facility to the highest bidder, Yıldırım Foreign Trade, for $8.2 million, however the sale did not get approval, and the facility was handed over to the Finance Ministry. Since then this marvelous holiday village has been left to its fate, buildings have fallen into ruin and the garden has been overrun by weeds.

“The facility has provided a great deal of contribution to Turkish tourism,” said Foça Mayor Gökhan Demirağ. He added, “The Mediterranean Tourist Facilities company managed the village until November 2005, when Club Med was included in the privatization program and bought by a private firm. But later on the sale was canceled and the facility was excluded from the privatization program. We asked the Turkish Privatization Administration for the facility to be managed by the same company but could not receive approval. As a municipality, we were also not allowed to operate it because we didn’t have a company. I don’t know what the situation is now.”

Noting that the biggest advantage of Club Med, located five kilometers from Foça, was to create job opportunities for the locals, Demirağ said, “Many people in Foça and its villages have retired from Club Med.” “At least 300 people had the opportunity to work at other Club Med facilities around the world. During summer seasons 10,000 tourists used to come to Foça every year. Restaurants, drivers and other local businessmen were taking advantage of this tourist flow, therefore the investors are in urgent need to regain such a place. It is now in a very bad condition. Any fire risk would damage Foça’s environment,” Demirağ added.

Foça Craftsmen and Artisans Chamber Chairman Günal Menemenli said Club Med has been an ongoing problem for years. “The craftsmen in Foça have been worrying about this facility. Many people have retired from there and the place contributed to Foça in terms of education and language. We wish that it will be opened soon,” said Menemenli.

Club Med Foça

 The development of tourism was among the priority goals in Turkey’s 15-year development strategy from 1963-1978. Foreign experts proposed the establishment of holiday villages to bring rich foreign tourists to the country. As a result, France-based Club Med laid the foundations of new facilities in Aegean Foça, Kuşadası and Mediterranean Kemer. Foça Holiday Village got great attention and received many awards in the past. The facility served 900 tourists with 120 employees in the first five months. It became the leader of modern tourism in Turkey. Club Med introduced water sports, animation shows and other types of entertainment to the country, becoming a legend once upon a time.