The Greek statistical and economic data service Hellastat SA recently conducted a study that shows the current economic conditions for domestic marina operators are favorable.
According to the study, the successful hosting of the 2004 Olympic games and the strong advertising campaign by the tourism development ministry through participation in international tourism exhibitions and events has greatly enhanced the potential for sea tourism business.
Officials from the yachting sector described 2006 as a positive year with high marine tourism business and a greater number of vessels at most mooring facilities. There was an increased demand from professional yachting with sail boat chartering in Greece more popular than ever from such markets as the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.
According to the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owner Association (EPEST), 2006 saw an 150 percent increase, from 100 percent in 2005, of sales in the chartering segment of vessels with a capacity of up to 49 passengers. In contrast, crewed boat and motor ship chartering showed a lesser rate of growth, from 15 percent to 25 percent.
However, Antonis Stelliatos, president of EPEST said that beyond the results shown by the recent study, there are still underlying and fundamental problems with marinas and marine business in Greece. With reference to the fact that Croatia with such a small coastline has over 100 marinas, and Greece has only 30, he said “the foundations for the development of sea business in Greece are weak and we should have marinas to equal our coastline and the demands of the over 5,000 vessels currently in Greece.”
Mr. Stelliatos commented on the direct competition from the Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean where “these countries do not boast the extensive coastlines and numerous islands of Greece, yet they have built more marinas and offer services of higher quality.”
Official statistics show that in Greece there are more than 1,250 ports of all types and classes but only 30 marinas including those operated by private companies. Croatia currently operates marinas with a total capacity of 13,000 berths plus 4,500 wintering places. Turkey has also implemented a number of sea tourism programs and investments.
According to the Hellastat study, positive growth of marinas and marine tourism must be maintained through persistent development and investment in the sector. Programs for the promotion of alternative tourism and the extension of the tourism season to 12 months are key objectives.
Certain actions, in the meantime, have been taken to further develop marine tourism and upgrade port and marina facilities around the country. These are currently in the planning stage and include a three-billion-euro protocol that was signed in June 2005 between Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry and the European Investment Bank for this purpose.