A draft bill laying out the provisions for the development of diving and golf tourism has been tabled by the Greek Tourism Ministry and is now open for public consultation until March 9.
Aiming to tap into special interest tourism focused on attracting higher income travelers, the tourism ministry bill simplifies procedures and lifts restrictions with emphasis on the creation of diving parks.
At the center of the government’s tourism development plan, diving is expected to increase the number of travelers to Greece, contribute to the economic growth of remote island areas, create jobs in local communities, as well as extend the tourism season beyond the traditional summer period.
The said bill foresees the establishment of a permanent interministerial council under the tourism minister which will monitor developments in the area of diving tourism, oversee the creation of a national diving site network, and ensure sustainable practices are adhered to.
Other areas covered include identifying which underwater archaeological sites can open to the public as museums and the protection of these sites by the relevant archaeological authorities and coast guard.
Additionally, the draft law paves the way for the first-time development of the country’s modern shipwrecks, which will – once the bill is passed – also be open to public (divers) provided they are accompanied by licensed recreational diving experts.
The new regulations also allow interested parties – municipalities, hotel groups, tourism entrepreneurs – to construct (and pay for) artificial underwater sites such as shipwrecks, recreational areas, and parks with the aim of attracting visitors, and sanctions a number of diving-related activities including recreational boat and cruise services.
Under the new law, the government will offer incentives for the creation of sites that contribute to the development of diving tourism, and which may also be eligible for national, EU and international funding programs.