عنوان مقاله [English]
Iran has a huge potential in maritime passenger transport while possessing 5780 km water coast, including islands, rivers, and water basins. Development of maritime passenger transport will certainly trigger tourism industry. Ports, as the most important infrastructures in maritime passenger transportation, play a pivotal role in development of this industry. A variety of qualitative and quantitative criteria in passenger port location as well as exorbitant establishment costs necessitate a reliable decision-making framework for the design of passenger port networks.This paper presents a new approach for the design of passenger port networks based on Fuzzy TOPSIS method, set covering model, and utility covering model. Identification of major criteria in passenger port location, calculation of candidate points utility, calculation of the number of ports needed to satisfy total demands, and selection of superior points are the main steps of the proposed approach. The proposed approach has been used for the design of passenger port network in Mazandaran province -an important coastal province in Iran- and the results are presented in this paper. In the first step of the proposed approach, 14 candidate points in the coastal cities of Mazandaran Province were rated by the use of TOPSIS model according to 18 criteria. Since the ports should cover the total demand, the set covering model was mixed with fuzzy TOPSIS model to find suitable locations that maximize utility function. Finally, each demand point was assigned to a selected port. Based on the results, Ramsar, Fereydunkenar, and Babolsar are selected as Domestic Ports. In addition, Noushahr and Behshar sites are selected as International Ports. The results of this research have been evaluated through conducting a sensitive analysis on coverage radius and the maximum available budget.The proposed decision-making framework could be used in other Iranian coastal provinces to design maritime passenger networks.