30 Oct 2012
Greek government plans rebirth of superyacht sector
Greece is on the cusp of implementing an entirely new course of maritime policy to attract more yachts to its shores and so assist the ailing economy back on its feet.
Parallel to this activity, and supporting this hoped for establishment of Greece as a luxury yacht destination, is a plan to privatise over a hundred marinas.
Giannis Markogiannis, government advisor on yachting and marinas legislation in Greece, is assisting on the devising and implementation of this new policy under the newly formed Ministry of Merchant Marine. He said “the scenery is already changing” for the better:
“The Greek State and the competent Ministers are determined to re-invite the yachts and their owners to Greece and make sure that they have all possible incentives, if they so wish, to keep their yachts at the natural environment of Greece and enjoy five star services.”
“The implementation of such policy will also require the provision of the necessary berthing places. Therefore, a second relevant legal frame is being prepared, to regulate the new building, long term lease and assignment of use of ports, marinas and smaller port stations (over 160 in total) in an effort to improve the country's infrastructure in this vital sector of national industry,” he concluded.
The planned leasing out of marinas are part of Greece’s widely publicised mission to seek investors in a ream of assets. So far, in the second wave of assets planned, is an airport in Athens, a nickel producer (Larco) and a State port in Piraeus. Assets leased out to investors are being chosen to raise the target of 19 billion euros by the end of 2015 and about 50 billion euros by 2020; the figure stipulated in its EU/IMF bailout plan.
Possible investment into so many of Greece’s marinas from international developers is an exciting prospect for the country and for the superyacht industry. Although some yachtsmen love its understated charm, a greater proportion could arguably be drawn to its marinas (and its waters) if there were increased luxury services and improved repair facilities on a par with its European competitors.
Bruno Meier at ART Marine, which owns marinas in the Middle East but is expanding into new territories, said he “would not say no if we would be approached by a one or several of (Greece’s marinas) asking us to operate and manage them."
Meier, who has experience as a captain in Greek waters, added that, “the privatisation of the Greek marinas is good news indeed. From my experience, Greece’s “harbours” (you cannot call them marinas) were awful. Compared to Croatia on one side and Turkey on the other side, Greece stayed behind and it is a shame for a maritime nation like Greece.”
The only caveat that could be made is the possible impact on pricing. Yachts are attracted to Greece’s marinas now because, amongst other reasons, they offer cheap berthing.
For yachts waiting to be sold, it is a good place to minimise costs, and for owners seeking value for overwintering it is similarly popular. But Markogiannis said commercial yachts would still find VAT free berthing and that the Ministry of Tourism was considering the introduction of a regulated pricing policy. Still, luxury marinas will be charging luxury prices, so Greece will need to establish itself in this new league to be a success.
These concerns are less pressing. More interesting will be to witness which investors decide to snap up these new marinas once the list is established. The changes are also just beginning but under the newly formed Maritime Ministry and with an actual revenue target to reach, there is renewed focus and reason for making Greek's yachting sector a success.
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