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Greek Boatmakers Warn of Choppy Waters Ahead

Fiskardo's colorful buildings and boat-filled harbor.

The extension of a yearly luxury levy to all recreational boats over 5m and a tax increase from 10 percent to 13 percent are bound to take a bite out of Greece’s traditional boatmaking industry, which has already seen demand and the number of boat registrations dwindle, according to its trade body.

A traditional industry that has fed generations of Greeks, particularly on the islands and seaside regions, which make up a large part of the country, boatmaking is feeling the sting after the government announced further austerity measures to meet the demands of its creditors.

“We’re being destroyed. I can’t understand what these people in government are thinking,” George Kranitis, head of the Greek Boat Builders’ Association, told The Associated Press (AP).

Kranitis was forced to let go of most of the 35 employees that once worked on his 10,000m2, family-owned shipyard, which sold some 350 boats a year.

Boat owners already pay a luxury tax, which is assessed depending on the vessel’s age. Traditional wooden boats made in Greece get a discount.

“I don’t believe they will have any income from this because even if someone would like to buy something, he would prefer to go to Italy or to another country to buy it,” George Vernicos, owner of a yachting business and Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) secretary-general, told the AP.

In the meantime, Athens Chamber of Commerce President Constantine Michalos describes tourism as the country’s “heavy industry”.

“What we need to do on both sides is to understand which are the structural reforms which are positive for the economy, sustainable by the Greek people, so that our partners can hope that at the end of the day, the dues from Greece will be paid in full,” he told Voice of America.

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