With their undeniable beauty and coastlines ideally suited for yachting, why are the Greek islands not attracting more superyachts? Why is Greece not able to benefit from the much-needed tourism revenue that visiting superyachts would bring?
“We believe that tourism in Greece and in particular in Yachting has prospects for further growth,” said Michael Dunkerly, senior lawyer and manager of Tethys Equity and Oceda Yacht Agency”, speaking at the 1st Eastern Mediterranean Superyacht Forum taking place in Athens recently.
The conference discussed the need for an investment programme in marine tourism, particularly in marinas. But, despite the Greek government failing to make much-needed reforms to the country`s ailing economy, there is still some optimism amongst would-be investors about the prospects for its marine tourism sector. “For all those who are fortunate enough to spend time in Greece and the Greek islands, continues Michael Dunkerley, “they realize that nature has done an amazing job in creating a Yachting paradise. All we have to do is to “put the cherry on the cake.”
With Greece`s debt crisis and new refugee arrivals across the region unsteadying investor nerves, an over-riding issue affecting the superyacht sector is the onerous regulatory environment. “Greece unfortunately is subject to perhaps the most inane and unfriendly chartering rules for owners, charterers and the State itself. The regulations in place often deter yachts without a Greek commercial licence from chartering in our waters and where they do actually decide to come, unlike most EU States, there is no system in place to collect the VAT when such charters commence in Greek waters. A crazy loss of income for a country facing such serious economic problems” explains Jennifer Timinis, lawyer and managing director of Oceda.
According to others in the industry, however, the Greek government is taking these concerns seriously. Stavros Katsikadis, President of the Greek Marinas Association, addressing the East Mediterranean Superyacht Forum, indicated that the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs are both discussing lifting the ban on chartering of recreational vessels under a non-EU flag in Greece.
Other topics that were discussed at the event included Vassilis Fotilas from Fraser Yachts giving an overview of the Superyacht market today and Norma Trease moderating a brokers panel looking at the future for superyacht sales globally. In addition, Andrew Charlier from Ince & Co moderated a panel that compared the restrictions affecting Greece with those impacting other Jurisdictions.
For those keen to follow developments, the 2nd Eastern Mediterranean Superyacht Forum will take place on 31st May, 2018. “The second Forum will offer the best opportunity to see what changes have taken place one year on”, said Alison Singhal, Director at Quaynote Communications, co-organisers of the conference with Oceda. “Clearly growing Greece`s marine tourism sector to reach full potential is a work-in-progress”.