Key Tourism Figures 2017: Michalis Sakellis, President Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies
When talking about coastal shipping we need to know that we are talking about the viability of our islands, the preservation and growth of their population, the tourism development and the economy of our country.
It is estimated that through direct and indirect impacts, coastal shipping participates in GDP with 12,9 billion or 7,3% and contributes in terms of employment with 284,000 jobs or 53% of employment in our islands.
The great importance of our coastal shipping over time has not been properly evaluated. Oddly enough, coastal services are taken for granted, resulting the non-investment of the state for contribution to their development. There is also confusion as to the nature of our coastal transport which is considered public when public service obligations are imposed and private when there are problems that need to be addressed.
The state’s timeless indifference to our port infrastructures and the implementation for decades until 2002 of an anachronistic institutional framework as well as state interventionism, slowed every development effort.
However, in view of the liberalization of services and the implementation of European Regulation 3577 in 2004, companies with their own initiatives and funds have invested in new shipbuilding and ship purchases, with the result that today we have one of the most modern fleets in Europe offering quality services.
During 2009-2014, coastal shipping faced serious problems with accumulated losses that exceeded 1 billion as a result of the Greek and oil crisis. There are also concerns about 2017 due to a 45% increase in fuel prices over the previous year and we are not optimistic about the results of the industry.
In order to maintain the high level of services available today and to address the serious problems posed by the dependence of companies on fuel costs and its uncontrolled course, it is necessary to revise our institutional framework on further liberalization of services, and of course to accelerate the procedures for the study and implementation of the necessary port works.
Our Association participates in the working group set up by the Minister of Shipping for the reform of the institutional framework. Also we have presented our proposals on issues related to the improvement of our port infrastructure and especially on the allocation of the collected harbor fees. The discussions are in a good and consensual atmosphere and we believe that the results will be positive.