Greece’s yacht marinas could largely contribute to the further development of the country’s economy and tourism but still remain largely untapped, according to the Greek Marinas Association.
According to a study of the association presented recently in Athens, the requirements for the yacht marina industry to double revenues and jobs include attracting more private investments for marinas in Greece, modernizing existing infrastructure and creating incentives to attract and increase the number of yachts visiting the country.
Some 60 ports used for tourist purposes currently operate in Greece, bringing high added value to the country’s economy. However, as the association points out, much more can be done.
Today, the overall contribution (direct and indirect) of marinas and yachting tourism to Greece include 793,435 arrivals of foreign tourists, 1.23 billion euros to the economy, 1.41 percent of GDP, 43,626 jobs in tourism, 3.66 billion euros in investments and 1.94 billion euros in regional development.
The study underlined that further privatization and exploitation of the sector could generate some 479,000 new foreign tourist arrivals to Greece, an additional 1.3 billion euros to the Greek economy, an extra 1 percent contribution to the country’s GDP and around 44,389 more jobs.
“We need to think about why only 60 tourist ports (out of 149) are in operation in Greece,” Greek Marinas Association President Stavros Katsikadis said during the event, adding that from the 60 marinas, only 30 have been exploited to provide basic services to pleasure boats.
The association’s president underlined that upgrading the existing infrastructure of marinas is a necessary condition for the development of yachting tourism in Greece.
“It is necessary to design and implement a strategy for the sector’s sustainable development at a national level, with marinas that will have modern infrastructure and provide high quality services, respecting the environment and the local community,” Kastikadis said.
He also stressed that the endless bureaucracy involved in the process of creating a new marina discourages investors and underlined the need for the simplification of licencing procedures for tourist port concession deals.
Moeover, Katsikadis added that Greece must also ease its restrictions on foreign professional pleasure boats.
“The restrictive provisions of Law 4256/2014 that discourage foreign professional pleasure boats to operate in Greece, regardless of what flag they have, are not in line with the extroversion strategy and do not benefit our marinas,” Katsikadis stressed.
“Our country must be on the same page with other Mediterranean countries on this issue. Our aim should be to raise revenue from taxes and levies and not to restrict foreign flag professional boats,” he added.
Kastikadis also pointed out that Greece has the lowest analogy in the number of berths per kilometer of coastline compared to competing Mediterranean destinations.
“Despite the fact that Greece is among the world’s top tourism destinations due to the Mediterranean climate, friendly seas, hundreds of islands and some 16,000 kilometers of coastline, yachting and marinas in the country do not have the growth they should,” he said.
According to the study, Greece currently covers only 0.84 percent of its coastline with docking berths, while France covers 31.98 percent, followed by Spain (18.93 percent), Italy (18.04 percent) and Montenegro (7.58 percent).
Moreover, Katsikadis highlighted that high tax rates and luxury levies on yachts, imposed during the crisis, led to a decrease in the competitiveness of the Greek marinas.
“A simple and fair tax framework for marinas and yacht services is needed, one in line with other sectors of Greek tourism, such as hotels,” he said.
The study also showed that the percentage to lease a Greek marina is four times higher than that of the corresponding global average. “There are marinas that pay more than 60 percent of their turnover as rent to the state,” Katsikadis said.
According to the Tourism Ministry, the government’s plan for the development of marinas in Greece include reviewing relevant legislation from the start.
Moreover, it was recently announced that simplifying the procedures for the licencing of marina concession deals is one of the 134 priority actions of the Greek government this year.