Greece’s cumbersome, complex and constantly changing legislative and regulatory frameworks in the pleasure boat segment and lagging marina infrastructure cost the country billions in lost tourism revenues each year, according to speakers at the 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, which concluded last week in Athens.
The annual revenue to the Greek economy from all types and segments of pleasure boat activity is in the region of 600 million euros, which is equal to the revenues Spain receives just from the operations of the very large yachts measuring over 25 meters.
The president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, George Gratsos, said there is also a distinct disparity between Greece and other Mediterranean countries in terms of the number of people who own boats and the available marina infrastructure.
“With 16,000Kms of coastline and 1,200 islands, Greece has just 14,400 mooring places compared to France’s 226,000 mooring places across a coastline of a mere 6,300kms,” said Gratsos.
In Greece, there is one pleasure boat for every 621 people when in Europe the average is one for every 164.
This, according to Mr. Gratsos, is due to the hostile Greek tax code which is “extremely unfriendly” to yacht owners.
Representing the Greek government at the panel discussion, held under the title “Commercial Yachting in the East Mediterranean,” was the Secretary General of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Panos Livadas, who said “much is being done” to help the sector realize its full potential.
“Greece is focusing on the growth of the yachting industry and we are already taking measures designed to reform the industry by lifting red tape restrictions and by ensuring the seamless inter-ministerial cooperation which is necessary,” said Livadas.
However, the industry does not seem convinced about the length to which the Greek government is willing to “sail” in order to lift the cabotage, which is still prevalent in the waters of Greece’s commercial yachting sector.
“Development plans for a total of 15 new marinas are awaiting permits for years and piers and other existing facilities are in badly need for repairs but permits are not forthcoming as bureaucracy reigns,” Mr. Gratsos insisted.